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Space Technology Research Grants

Innovations for Fast, Accurate, Robust Planetary Rover Navigation

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Innovations for Fast, Accurate, Robust Planetary Rover Navigation
Existing methods of state estimation and route determination of planetary rovers are too expensive, both in computational time and power requirements. Many sensors and methods that are used in terrestrial systems are too large, too heavy, or too power hungry for space. Current optical methods used in rovers are slow due to limited computational power. As a result, they are limited in their speed and performance. Small, high-cadence, minimalist rovers are poised to break new ground by expanding space exploration capabilities. They can be used as scouts or fetch samples as proposed by the future Mars Sample Return mission. The ability to quickly and efficiently estimate state becomes even more crucial as the size, weight, and power budgets continue to shrink. This research proposes to research and develop methods for low-latency and inexpensive state estimation and route determination. It will pursue this by investigating minimalist sensor configurations that provide high-fidelity measurements for state estimation and focus on computationally efficient visual odometry. The result of this research will enable safer, faster, and smarter navigation of a planetary rover. More »

Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

Technology Transitions

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