What makes Field Trials so valuable?

Field Trials are all about taking new ideas into a real world setting and exploring their potential.  Prototypes are used to prove new techniques, designs and equipments in conditions that are a lot more realistic than those in a scientific or engineering laboratory.

Apart from testing new ideas, engineers and scientists are challenged to develop new ones and to think of new ways of solving problems in settings they may not encounter in everyday life.  Weak spots in a design soon become apparent when put to the test in this way.  The random and unexpected elements of Field Trials lead to many valuable, serendipitous discoveries along the way.

The PRoVisG team will be taking various imaging (camera) systems, to not only test their performance but also to gather image data on which to exercise the software they are writing to confirm how well it works. The Rover will also be carrying high tech drilling equipment and distance measuring equipments that are being developed for future interplanetary robotic missions.

It is a marked feature of Field Trials that people taking part experience many surprises and enlightening moments.  Enthusiastic comments such as the following are commonplace following field trials : - 
  • "I learned much more than I would have thought possible in such a short time".
  • "I was amazed by how quickly the problems and issues were revealed by the trials".
  • "I thought we'd solved most of the problems but the Trials revealed just how far we have to go".
  • "I suddenly began to understand what the real issues were!"
  • "That was incredibly rewarding and well worth the effort".
  • "How soon can we do the next one?".
To quote the Director of the Astrium hosted PRoVisG Field Trials, Lester Waugh...

"Field Trials are an extremely valuable tool in the development of new technology which, whilst they may at first seem expensive to host, lead to faster and better developments in the world of high technology.  They root new sky ideas firmly in the real world, lead to better designs and the development of better engineers and scientists"