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Battery-Swapping Multi-Agent System for Sustained Operation of Large Planetary Fleets

Battery-Swapping Multi-Agent System for Sustained Operation of Large Planetary Fleets

Ethan Holand , Jarrod Homer, Alex Storrer, Musheera Khandaker, Ethan F. Muhlon, Maulik Patel Ben-oni Vainqueur, David Antaki, Naomi Cooke, Chloe Wilson, Bahram Shafai, Nathaniel Hanson, Taşkın Padır


We propose a novel, heterogeneous multi-agent architecture that miniaturizes rovers by outsourcing power generation to a central hub. By delegating power generation and distribution functions to this hub, the size, weight, power, and cost (SWAP-C) per rover are reduced, enabling efficient fleet scaling. As these rovers conduct mission tasks around the terrain, the hub charges an array of replacement battery modules. When a rover requires charging, it returns to the hub to initiate an autonomous docking sequence and exits with a fully charged battery. This confers an advantage over direct charging methods, such as wireless or wired charging, by replenishing a rover in minutes as opposed to hours, increasing net rover uptime.

This work shares an open-source platform developed to demonstrate battery swapping on unknown field terrain. We detail our design methodologies utilized for increasing system reliability, with a focus on optimization, robust mechanical design, and verification. Optimization of the system is discussed, including the design of passive guide rails through simulation-based optimization methods which increase the valid docking configuration space by 258%. The full system was evaluated during integrated testing, where an average servicing time of 98 seconds was achieved on surfaces with a gradient up to 10°. We conclude by briefly proposing flight considerations for advancing the system toward a space-ready design. In sum, this prototype represents a proof of concept for autonomous docking and battery transfer on field terrain, advancing its Technology Readiness Level (TRL) from 1 to 3.

Publication Details

We are excited to share that our paper has been accepted to the 2024 IEEE Aerospace Conference (Aeroconf). We are scheduled to present on March 7th. A pre-print of the paper is available on arXiv.

Prototype System Pictured Outdoors
Field Testing of the prototype battery-swapping multi-agent rover architecture.

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