Six degree-of-freedom hovering using lidar altimetry via reinforcement meta-learning

Brian Gaudet, Richard Linares, Robert Furfaro

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


We optimize a six degrees of freedom hovering policy using reinforcement meta-learning. The policy maps flash LIDAR measurements directly to on/off spacecraft body-frame thrust commands, allowing hovering at a fixed position and attitude in the asteroid body-fixed reference frame. Importantly, the policy does not require position and velocity estimates, and can operate in environments with unknown dynamics, and without an asteroid shape model or navigation aids. Indeed, during optimization the agent is confronted with a new randomly generated asteroid for each episode, insuring that it does not learn an asteroid’s shape, texture, or environmental dynamics. This allows the deployed policy to generalize well to novel asteroid characteristics, which we demonstrate in our experiments. The hovering controller has the potential to simplify mission planning by allowing asteroid body-fixed hovering immediately upon the spacecraft’s arrival to an asteroid. This in turn simplifies shape model generation and allows resource mapping via remote sensing immediately upon arrival at the target asteroid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA Scitech 2020 Forum
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624105951
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes
EventAIAA Scitech Forum, 2020 - Orlando, United States
Duration: Jan 6 2020Jan 10 2020

Publication series

NameAIAA Scitech 2020 Forum
Volume1 PartF


ConferenceAIAA Scitech Forum, 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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