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SBIR/STTR

Advanced Algorithms and Controls for Superior Robotic All-Terrain Mobility, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

ProtoInnovations, LLC (PI) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have formed a partnership to research, develop, and experimentally test a suite of methods for significantly improving the safety, mean travel speed, and rough-terrain access of wheeled planetary exploration rovers. We will accomplish this by developing algorithms for all-terrain adaptive locomotion. This will include algorithms for: 1. Traction control, which will intelligently govern individual wheel commands as a function of terrain conditions in order to measurably decrease wheel slip; and, 2. Embedding detection, which monitors the rover's inertial signature to rapidly and robustly detect instances of incipient embedding in soft, low bearing-strength regolith. Our aim is to provide a novel approach for enhancing rover traction and reducing slip that will not only allow rovers to autonomously detect and avoid hazardous terrain regions, but also to travel with assured safety on terrain that is steeper and rougher than is currently possible. The result of this work will be systems that can rove with a reduced risk of catastrophic failure, while simultaneously increasing both the quantity and potential quality of science data products. This latter capability is enabled by the fact that rovers will be able to travel for long durations without requiring lengthy human interventions, and will be able to travel to sites of greater scientific interest (and proportionally greater mobility difficulty) than what is possible today. More »

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