Autonomous Soil Assessment System (ASAS)

Have you ever wondered how rovers could safely explore the surface of a planet? Mission Control’s contract with the Canadian Space Agency aims to address just that.

The end goal of ASAS is to detect unknown hazards such as soft soil that could immobilize a planetary rover and compromise its mission. Operating in real time, the technology developed by Mission Control aims to increase the navigation autonomy of rovers in challenging terrain and improve their speed. The ultimate objective of this project is to successfully deploy the technology on future planetary exploration missions, all the while executing our strategy of generating commercial opportunities for terrestrial spinoff technologies.

Beyond the planetary exploration application of this technology, Mission Control has found several potential collaborators that have expressed a need for technological capabilities that will emerge from the development of ASAS. Finding needs in the automotive industry, commercial cleaning industry, etc., we hope that our work can be useful to a variety of different companies and people in the future.

The ASAS project is developed in collaboration with key partners both from academia and industry, including Concordia University (Concordia’s Institute of Aerospace Design and Innovation, Dr. Chris Skonieczny); Dr. Karl Iagnemma, an expert from the U.S.; and two Canadian companies, Ontario Drive and Gear and Canadensys Aerospace.

To stay up to date on the progress with ASAS and our other projects, please check in with our newsfeed and follow our various social media accounts.

Latest News


Announcement: Mission Control Intelligence

Mission Control is excited to announce Mission Control Intelligence (MCI): a joint project with Axiom Research Labs to demonstrate AI-powered autonomy on a micro-rover ahead of commercial missions to the Moon. Read more about it here and our press release!


Announcement: Partnership with Pleora Technologies!

Today we’re thrilled to announce a new partnership with Pleora Technologies!
This partnerships that combines our respective expertise in real-time sensor networking and artificial intelligence (AI) for robotic control and automation to enable advanced driver assistance in local situational awareness (LSA) and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) applications. We will be ntegrating their RuggedCONNECT smart video switcher platform and our Vehicle/Terrain AI Safety System. This AI capability is the evolution of our patented ASAS technology originally developed for space applications with the support of the Canadian Space Agency!

Spinning off space technology for terrestrial applications is a strength of the Canadian Space industry. Read the press release here.


SAND-E Mission

Our team is wrapping up their time in Iceland and very pleased with the amazing research the SAND-E team was able to do, along with the fact that we had the opportunity to test our ASAS technology in the field.
SAND-E will allow our science teams to examine and determine causes of variability in the geochemistry, minerology and physical grain properties of fluvial and aeolian sediments. SAND-E scientists got to study the movement of sediments in these unique formations in Iceland, in hopes that it will better inform us of similar landscapes on Mars. We were able to conduct a series of surveys using a variety of operational protocols to test the most efficient approaches of gathering data. Some scenarios allowed the rover to autonomously drive and select scientific sites without human input, and in others the team measured the benefit of short drone flights to scout the area ahead, similar to NASA’s proposed Mars 2020 Mission.

Keep up with us on twitter as we prepare for next year’s field test in Iceland!


Remotely driving – from Ottawa to New Mexico

This week, our team was so excited to showcase some of our very own proprietary rover control software that we have been developing over the past few years.

At an event at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, we were able to demonstrate to students and industry partners what our company has been working towards on the education and outreach side. Not only were we able to talk with Woodroffe high school students about what we are working on and passionate about, we were also able to share the podium with inspiring STEM role model, Canadian Astronaut Robert Thirsk.

After presentations, students were able to drive our rover in New Mexico all the way from Ottawa. This was a small demo of what we offer in our Mission Control Academy program each year, and tied our work in New Mexico back to our partners and community back in Ottawa!


Mission Control at White Sands

Over the greater part of March, the Mission Control team is here in White Sands National Monument, doing a final demonstration of our ASAS technology with support from Canadian Space Agency!
ASAS is a technology we’ve been working on since 2015. We are using this opportunity at White Sands National Monument to test our software in a natural sand environment, which doesn’t exist at the facilities we have access to in Ottawa.

Over the next three weeks or so, we will test core system functionality, localization performance, ASAS functionality (terramechanics model), new wheels and characterize slip-slope… among other things!

Follow us on twitter for daily updates: #MissionControlWSNM



ASAS has been one of the biggest projects happening at the Mission Control offices for some time now, so it was great to get out of the office and over to the Mars Yard at CSA to do some more testing and demos with the team. Fortunately, we had some nice weather in Montreal!


2017 ASAS Testing

Gearing up for the final few months of our ASAS project, our team is preparing for some more field testing of our software. Our robotics engineers have been performing set-up, integration, and preliminary testing on our rover from a cozy corner at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. Drop by to say hi, and follow us on our social media channels to see more images from the upcoming test campaigns!


ASAS Test Campaign

Our ASAS project is in full swing.
Here are some members of our team and our friends at ARGO XTR last week, out in the field with the rover doing testing campaigns.
Part of developing Autonomous Soil Assessment System involves testing and acquiring data in different combinations of slope and terrain type (sand, gravel and bedrock). Using machine learning, this information will be used to help future autonomous vehicles to make their own ‘decisions’ in real-time.


ASAS Mission Patch


Introducing our new mission patch for ASAS – the Autonomous Soil Assessment System.

A mission patch is a typically a cloth reproduction of a spaceflight mission emblem worn by astronauts and other personnel affiliated with that (usually manned) mission. However, we here at Mission Control love to encourage interdisciplinary work and wanted to have something visual and creative to represent the technology we are developing.

The initial patch design and first iterations were done by graphic artist, Ata Ojani, while further iterations were refined by our own team member, Kaizad Raimalwala, with input from our entire team. What do you think? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!


Testing ASAS

We are spending the next few weeks doing testing on our ASAS technology with ODG – keep up to date by following us on twitter and facebook!