Augmented-reality-based remote assistance for satellite integration and test campaigns

Advanced automation of satellite integration, test campaigns and operations is becoming a key factor in the New Space domain. Augmented reality can maximize the level of telepresence for complex remote assistance tasks.

In the context of the development of a capable and flexible nanosatellite bus for Earth observation missions, Fraunhofer EMI has developed a modular test and operations software framework to promote easy remote and automated control of a heterogenous set of electrical ground support equipment. The system facilitates flexible interaction between test operator and distributed infrastructure, therefore optimizing effectiveness, reproducibility and equipment utilization. This helps to promote rapid design, integration and test cycles or high-quality batch production.

The system has proven to be particularly beneficial in the context of the recent pandemic, as it allowed efficient control and monitoring of the entire laboratory equipment from remote workstations during comprehensive satellite integration and test campaigns. In phases, where manual interaction with the local hardware was indispensable, the system was helpful to support extensive remote assistance.

The utilization of holographic headsets can further improve efficiency and effectivness of remote collaboration tasks in a high-tech industrial environment, increasing the level of telepresence significantly. While a single local engineer can focus entirely on the installation of a particular hardware of interest, a set of remote experts might participate in a video conference session — with full access to the telemetry and command interfaces of the entire equipment. Augmented reality allows to create more context-sensitive interaction by sharing a first-person perspective of the relevant scene in realtime. In turn, the remote engineer can augment the scene with context-specific documentation and interactive 3D assets.

© Fraunhofer EMI
External view (left) and first-person view (right) of the engineer in the clean room, collaborating with a remote assistant who can add documentation and 3D assets to the mixed virtual environment.