ASTROBOTIC x NASA / UX DESIGN

CUBEROVER TELE-OPERATIONS

Creating a user interface for  tele-operations of the CubeRover. Expected to launch to the Moon in 2021 in collaboration with Astrobotic and NASA using Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lander.

PROJECT BACKGROUND

Building the lightest rover to ever land on the Moon. 🚀

The last time NASA has sent anything to the Moon was in 1972. It has been almost 50 years since we haven't been back there again. In 2018 December, NASA announced its plan to return to the Moon, but this time with the help of 9 private companies.
One of the companies, Astrobotic, is creating is a light-weight lunar rover of 4.4-lb. (2 kilograms) called CubeRover.

PROJECT SCOPE

As a founding designer, it is my job to create the tele-operations interface to remote control the rover from Earth.

Tele-operation simply means remote controlling the rover from Earth. To do so, there are several key features that must be designed - command line, a map, an image viewer, telemetry visualizations, and so much more.

MISSION FLOW

Tele-operations begin the moment we deploy on the lunar surface.

Integration, launch, transit, landing and deployment will be taken care by Astrobotic. Once deployed on the lunar surface, the CubeRover tele-operations team take over and start to explore the lunar surface to conduct its science mission.

MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT

So many teams and stakeholders.
How do we start from scratch?

Robotics team. Science team. Operations team. Ground testing team.
The sheer number of teams and members made the organization extremely difficult to navigate. Therefore we created a communication diagram to visualize the flow of information during the mission.

Communication Diagram

Robotics team. Science team. Operations team. Ground testing team.
The sheer number of teams and members made the organization extremely difficult to navigate. Therefore we created a communication diagram to visualize the flow of information during the mission.

Ideation

Each teams perform different critical tasks to ensure the success of the mission. We held a total of three different ideation sessions to come up with the minimum set of features that will allow us to conduct the bare minimum science mission on the Moon.

Performed with Systems Engineering Lead, Science Lead and Tele-operations Lead.

Minimum viable product feature set

Each teams perform different critical tasks to ensure the success of the mission. We held a total of three different ideation sessions to come up with the minimum set of features that will allow us to conduct the bare minimum science mission on the Moon.

Text-based wireframes

In an environment with high-uncertainly like this one, it is very difficult to come up with visual sketches of even the low-fidelity wireframes. Instead, we decided to create a text-based wireframe for each individual roles.
The features were divided into three hierarchies: primary / secondary / tertiary elements.

SHARED MAP

A way to track rover's current position, plan routes, and avoid obstacles.

As a Design Lead of the Shared Map team, I work three UX designers on creating various features for the Shared Map feature.

Use cases

Based on the minimum viable product feature sets, I came up with use cases for the Shared Map and started to ideate and create some lo-fidelity wireframes.

Pins / Obstacles /  Annotations / Pings

- Rocks / shadows / potholes / regolith piles / gravel / live pings for immediate attention

Live update from localizations (position corrections)

- Absolute localizations (automatic)
- Relative localizations (manual)

Routes

- Route plans, rover’s perceived travel route, and actual travel route after localization corrections
- Click on a route to show movement details

Iterations

After weekly critique sessions and user-testing sessions through Paper Mission sessions I was able to better understand the scope and the requirements of the missions.

2018 August

2018 October

+ Multiple Route Plans
+ Adaptive Grid
+ Localization
+ Command vs Actual route

2018 November

+ Rover command execution status
+ Localization Data

Paper missions

We don't have a solid user base we can test to iterate our work.
For that reason, we hold a virtual paper mission, essentially a simulation of the part of our science mission, using the Unreal Engine 3, hooked up to our command line to simulate the mission, and test different aspects of our interface.


SHARED MAP

Thoughtfully color coordinated for quick situational awareness.

The colors displayed on the Shared Map each indicate the different versions of calculations of the route.

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Copyright © 2018 Antonio Song. All rights reserved.