Navigation can be divided into
three distinctive phases:
(1) Long traversals: less than 40 m per
sol are navigated.
( 2) Target approaching: less than 10 m,
used for approaching interesting areas.
( 3) Fine positioning: less than 2 m,
used for establishing a workspace for
Fortunately, the techniques supportive
of remote planetary exploration can be
applied on Earth, as well. Antarctic and
volcano exploration are only two of the
possible scenarios. In the coming years,
we will witness fully autonomous
rovers, able to build maps of their
environments and able to decide
where to go and what to see on
Mars. In a sense, they’ll range from
geologists to tourists. SV
In general, the localization process
can dynamically adapt to the terrain. In
areas characterized by small rocks, simple dead reckoning can be used for traversal; where excessive slippage would
be problematic, visual odometry is
used to reduce dead reckoning errors.
sion, it is often the case that the rover
has to modify the original path
provided by Earth operators. This can
be done when detecting hazards, for
example. Usually, rovers are designed
to support two hazard detection levels:
Reactive (e.g., tilt check, motor faults);
and Predictive (e.g., stereo vision
used to track potential risks, traversal
analysis, terrain roughness).
Contingency planning consists in
interleaving planning and execution.
Therefore, an initial plan is established.
During the execution, possible plan
faults are identified, in which case, a
novel sub-plan is generated and then
integrated within the initial one.
When executing a navigation mis-
Rovers for space exploration push
the current limits in mobile
robotics, telecommunications, planning
technologies, and mechanical designs.
About the Author
Fulvio Mastrogiovanni is a PhD student
in Mobile Robotics and Artificial
Intelligence at the University of Genova,
Italy. In the past few years, he gained
experience in planning techniques,
knowledge representation, and reliable
and efficient software architectures for
mobile robots. Currently, he is working
hard to provide planetary rovers with
an increased autonomy and robust
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