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October 17, 2004 Guanaco Camp, Atacama Desert, Chile

ē Continue autonomous traverse
ē Continue fault recovery experiments

Status and Progress
Continue Autonomous Navigation Experiments. Today ZoŽ passed the 50 kilometer mark navigating autonomous. This distance was the goal we set for this season as something achievable with effort that would ensure that ZoŽ and the autonomous navigation software experienced enough terrain to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of our designs and algorithms. This total traverse distance is the sum of over 250 individual traverses, some short, some quite long, each initiated to by a single command sequence uploaded to the rover. Some commands were fairly simple, go to a specific location in the distance, some where more complex involving multiple waypoints and science actions. The command was decomposed by onboard planners into shorter actions, which are commanded by the rover executive to navigation and instrument modules. The farthest ZoŽ ran autonomously was 3.3 kilometers but on average a traverse would terminate after just over 200 meters. We were particularly pleased that our rover and navigation approach was able to reach beyond 1 kilometer on 9 occasions. (For what itís worth, there were 2 addition traverses that exceeded 995 meters.) We still have a couple more days of testing.

Continued rover executive experiments. The rover executive is the software module that accepts plans from one of the mission planners, tracks progress against the plan, doles out commands to other software modules, and reacts to faults detected during operation. We have a very simple rover executive used only for autonomous navigation but this year in efforts to fully automate the science investigation (a goal for next year) we have been developing and testing a rover executive that is capable of interpreting complex plans of navigation and science goals, monitoring the rover, sensors, instruments, power, communication, and all the other software modules, and guiding all onboard activities. This is a difficult software element to design and even more challenging to test and prove reliable. In conjunction with our autonomy experiments we have been exercising the rover executive making sure that it can operate under nominal conditions and we have been intentionally introducing faults to determine whether it correctly recovers from anomalous conditions. ZoŽ is quite robust against the types of faults that are most common, for example, failing to find a clear path ahead, and we are now working on the more unusual situations that still cause the rover to halt and await assistance (or occasionally carry-on oblivious to the problem).

ē More autonomous traverse and fault recovery experiments
ē Conduct mission planner validation tests

Dry, dry, dry, 10% humidity.

Quote of the Day
"Well, thatís not going to work."

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