University of Montreal MIST Lab

Since the beginning of human space exploration, over forty missions have attempted to reach Mars, and even more the Moon. Space agencies around the world are looking for novel strategies to explore celestial bodies. In Fall 2018, the European Space Agency (ESA) invited the Making Innovative Space Technology (MIST) Lab of the Polytechnique Montréal to take part in astronaut field training in the Canary Islands. Half of their fleet consisted of Spiri Mu drones.

This served as a proving ground for the flocking software the MIST team, led by Giovanni Beltrame, has been developing, in collaboration with Pleiades Robotics, for several years. The software, now available for developers, is open source and part of the standard installation on Spiri Mu.

“The results suggest that the operators’ cognitive load can be reduced by giving more intelligence and autonomy to the robotics system,” says Prof. Beltrame. Reducing the human effort required for robot operations will support the “Moon Village” vision of the ESA. It will also support myriad applications of drones to missions here on Earth, ranging from the preservation of our ecosystems to the management of natural disasters.

Source code for Buzz is available here:

For further reading:

MIST Team at Lanzarote
Flocking at Lanzarote