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Autonomous Rover Traverse and Precise Arm Placement on Remotely Designated TargetsExploring planetary surfaces typically involves traversing challenging and unknown terrain and acquiring in-situ measurements at designated locations using arm-mounted instruments. We present field results for a new implementation of an autonomous capability that enables a rover to traverse and precisely place an arm-mounted instrument on remote targets. Using point-and-click mouse commands, a scientist designates targets in the initial imagery acquired from the rover's mast cameras. The rover then autonomously traverse the rocky terrain for a distance of 10 - 15 m, tracks the target(s) of interest during the traverse, positions itself for approaching the target, and then precisely places an arm-mounted instrument within 2-3 cm from the originally designated target. The rover proceeds to acquire science measurements with the instrument. This work advances what has been previously developed and integrated on the Mars Exploration Rovers by using algorithms that are capable of traversing more rock-dense terrains, enabling tight thread-the-needle maneuvers. We integrated these algorithms on the newly refurbished Athena Mars research rover and fielded them in the JPL Mars Yard. We conducted 43 runs with targets at distances ranging from 5 m to 15 m and achieved a success rate of 93% for placement of the instrument within 2-3 cm.
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
External Source(s)
Felder, Michael
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Nesnas, Issa A.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Pivtoraiko, Mihail
(Carnegie-Mellon Univ. Pittsburgh, PA, United States)
Kelly, Alonzo
(Carnegie-Mellon Univ. Pittsburgh, PA, United States)
Volpe, Richard
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
May 9, 2011
Subject Category
Cybernetics, Artificial Intelligence And Robotics
Meeting Information
International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2011)(Shanghai)
Distribution Limits
Mars Exploration Rover (MER)
planetary surfaces
rocky terrain

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