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Center Innovation Fund: GRC CIF

Real‐Time Measurement of Wheel Performance on a Rover

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Real‐Time Measurement of Wheel Performance on a Rover
Wind-blown sand on Mars produces a high risk of entrapment for Mars rovers. This was evident when the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit was immobilized in a wind blown sand dune, effectively causing the eventual end of its mission. Because there is currently no practical method of quantifying the slip and sinkage of wheels in real-time, remote rover drivers are forced to avoid areas deemed risky, resulting in either missed science or added time and energy driving to avoid hazards. Investment in this proposal will develop techniques for measuring wheel performance in real-time. On-board wheel performance measurements with hazard detection and avoidance software would allow rover drivers to operate in more hazardous driving areas by minimizing the risk of entrapment. The techniques developed could be used to enhance current rover missions and enable future rovers to explore previously unattainable areas. The goal is to investigate at least three real time techniques for measuring wheel sinkage and slip that can be implemented on the Mars 2020 rover with minimal or no impact of additional hardware. More »

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