Autonomous real-time landing site selection for Venus and Titan using Evolutionary Fuzzy Cognitive Maps

Roberto Furfaro, Wolfgang Fink, Jeffrey S. Kargel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Future science-driven landing missions, conceived to collect in situ data on regions of planetary bodies that have the highest potential to yield important scientific discoveries, will require a higher degree of autonomy. The latter includes the ability of the spacecraft to autonomously select the landing site using real-time data acquired during the descent phase. This paper presents the development of an Evolutionary Fuzzy Cognitive Map (E-FCM) model that implements an artificial intelligence system capable of autonomously selecting a landing site with the highest potential for scientific discoveries constrained by the requirement of soft landing in a region with safe terrains. The proposed E-FCM evolves its internal states and interconnections as a function of real-time data collected during the descent phase, therefore improving the decision process as more accurate information becomes available. The E-FCM is constructed using knowledge accumulated by planetary experts and it is tested on scenarios that simulate the decision process during the descent phase toward the Hyndla Regio on Venus. The E-FCM is shown to quickly reach conclusions that are consistent with what would be the choice of a planetary expert if the scientist were presented with the same information. The proposed methodology is fast and efficient and may be suitable for on-board spacecraft implementation and real-time decision making during the course of robotic exploration of the Solar System.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3825-3839
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Soft Computing Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Autonomous systems
  • Fuzzy Cognitive Maps
  • Planetary exploration
  • Planetary landing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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