Assistive relative pose estimation for on-orbit assembly using convolutional neural networks

Shubham Sonawani, Ryan Alimo, Renuad Detry, Daniel Jeong, Andrew Hess, Heni Ben Amor

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

9 Scopus citations


Accurate real-time pose estimation of spacecraft or object in space is a key capability necessary for on orbit spacecraft servicing and assembly tasks. Pose estimation of objects in space is more challenging than for objects on Earth due to space images containing widely varying illumination conditions, high contrast, and poor resolution in addition to power and mass constraints. In this paper, a convolutional neural network is leveraged to uniquely determine the translation and rotation of an object of interest relative to the camera. The main idea of using CNN model is to assist object tracker used in on space assembly tasks where only feature based method is always not sufficient. The simulation framework designed for assembly task is used to generate dataset for training the modified CNN models and, then results of different models are compared with measure of how accurately models are predicting the pose. Unlike many current approaches for spacecraft or object in space pose estimation, the model does not rely on hand-crafted object-specific features which makes this model more robust and easier to apply to other types of spacecraft. It is shown that the model performs comparable to the current feature-selection methods and can therefore be used in conjunction with them to provide more reliable estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA Scitech 2020 Forum
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781624105951
StatePublished - 2020
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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