Toward an Autonomous Lunar Landing Based on Low-Speed Optic Flow Sensors

  • Sabiron Guillaume
  • Chavent Paul
  • Burlion Laurent
  • Kervendal Erwan
  • Bornschlegl Eric
  • Fabiani Patrick
  • Raharijaona Thibaut
  • Ruffier Franck



For the last few decades, growing interest has returned to the quite chal-lenging task of the autonomous lunar landing. Soft landing of payloads on the lu-nar surface requires the development of new means of ensuring safe descent with strong final conditions and aerospace-related constraints in terms of mass, cost and computational resources. In this paper, a two-phase approach is presented: first a biomimetic method inspired from the neuronal and sensory system of flying insects is presented as a solution to perform safe lunar landing. In order to design an au-topilot relying only on optic flow (OF) and inertial measurements, an estimation method based on a two-sensor setup is introduced: these sensors allow us to accu-rately estimate the orientation of the velocity vector which is mandatory to control the lander's pitch in a quasi-optimal way with respect to the fuel consumption. Sec-ondly a new low-speed Visual Motion Sensor (VMS) inspired by insects' visual systems performing local angular 1-D speed measurements ranging from 1.5 • /s to 25 • /s and weighing only 2.8 g is presented. It was tested under free-flying outdoor conditions over various fields onboard an 80 kg unmanned helicopter. These pre-liminary results show that the optic flow measured despite the complex disturbances encountered closely matched the ground-truth optic flow.