This talk presents an avionics and localization system that enables a lunar micro-rover to navigate autonomously. This system is important for the latest class of small, low-powered, and fast robots going to the Moon in search of polar ice. The first component of the system is an Extended Kalman Filter that fuses wheel encoding and inertial measurement data. This component does not depend on light or feature-rich terrain and so can be used throughout the rover’s exploration. The second component is the use of a sun sensor to provide an absolute heading estimate. The third component is a lightweight visual odometry algorithm which can be used in lit regions. This component is robust against slippage, an important concern for any ground vehicle operating on rocky surfaces. In this talk, these techniques are described in detail along with their integrated mode of operation. Testing of the system is demonstrated on physical hardware and its accuracy is quantified. To highlight the unique constraints of space robotics, equivalent systems of prior space rovers will also be analyzed.
David Wettergreen (Advisor)
William (Red) Whittaker (Advisor)
Zoom Participation. See announcement.