Cycle ProjectsCycle Projects

 Long-Range Rover Navigation

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Long-Range Rover Navigation

Upcoming planetary rovers will embark on ambitious campaigns of exploration. The Mobile Science Laboratory scenario called for a highly capable new class of rover to explore distinct science sites separated by a distance of several kilometers, collecting vast amounts of scientific data.

Important Mars science can be accomplished through detailed examination of constrained science sites but planetary surface investigation will move beyond detailed examination to regional exploration. Regional exploration is motivated by different science objectives, focusing on geologic units, their distributions and properties, and the discovery of interesting features within or at the contact of these units in order to understand the geologic record and development of the planet. Regional exploration is made possible by reliable long-range autonomous navigation.

This project addressed Rover Technology in the area of Long-Range Autonomous Navigation. We focused on maturing this technology to NASA Technology Readiness Level 6 (TRL-6), through experimentation in a relevant environment.

Using our solar-powered rovers Hyperion and Zoe we demonstrated preliminary results in long-range autonomous rover navigation with traverses of 300-600 meters in a single command cycle using 30 meter resolution digital terrain maps and onboard odometric information (meaning without GPS). We achieved one instance of single-command 1-kilometer autonomous rover traverse in the Atacama Desert, April 2003. This project aimed to enable planetary rovers to routinely exceed 1 kilometer in single-command autonomous traverse.

To learn more, visit the project webpage