October 16, 2004
Guanaco Camp, Atacama Desert, Chile
• Host public event for Zoe
• Continue autonomous traverse
• Attempt higher speed locomotion
Status and Progress
Hosted visitors in the field. We had an event for the invited guests of
our Chilean co-investigators and were surprised and impressed that
almost 100 people made the 200km trip from Antofagasta to see Zoe.
We answered many excellent questions about Zoe, its instruments, its
purpose, and its adventures. And as well, why we are here in the
Atacama, an extreme environment for finding life and an appropriate
planetary analog because of aridity, ultraviolet radiation, soil
composition, and terrain.
We started the Zoë driving autonomously and everyone had fun standing
in front of it to see if it would avoid them, which it did, of course!
After a look under the hood, and questions about next year, the caravan
headed out to see some geologic sites in the desert. Thanks to everyone
Traversed autonomously. After the crowds had left we continued tests in
autonomous navigation. Zoe crossed a drainage several kilometers wide
with many dry washes. This coupled with several mining exploration
roads with graded berms meant long continuous obstacles and a real test
of Zoë’s persistence in reaching its goals. In one instance the map to
odometric distance was 1:2.8 meaning it took 280 meters of driving to
reach a goal 100 meters away.
Sped up. We tried a new version of the navigator which increases Zoë’s
speed of traverse when it is moving straight ahead and making only
small steering corrections. Under these conditions Zoë moves at 0.7m/s
(about 2.5KPH), a modest speed up over the nominal 0.5m/s speed of
autonomous traverse. Zoë quite obviously speeds up when the path is
straight and clear, and slows down as obstacles are encountered and
more steering is needed. There seems to be some tuning remaining so
that Zoë decelerates well in advance of obstacles, and this current
speed of 0.7m/s is on the limit of acceptable for reliable obstacle
• More autonomous traverse
• Continue fault recovery experiments
Clear, dry, warm 22C, light breeze. Lots of stars.
Quote of the Day
For more information on Life in the Atacama including images, movies,
and field reports see: http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/atacama
"Now warp speed."