Beaver micro-rover development for the northern light mars lander

Post, Mark and Quine, Brendan and Lee, Regina (2012) Beaver micro-rover development for the northern light mars lander. In: CASI ASTRO 2012, 2012-04-24 - 2012-06-24, Fairmont Château Frontenac Hotel.

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    Abstract

    The increasing number of successful robotic systems in place on earth and in space, and the miniaturization offered by modern technology, have enabled new kinds of low-cost planetary science missions. Scientific tasks on other planets can now be performed with small, intelligent, and self-managing robots that can be transported and deployed more easily and in greater numbers than large, complex robots. The Northern Light mission is a Canadian initiative to send a small lander carrying a micro-rover (μrover) known as the Beaver to Mars to study the Martian surface. The Beaver is a solar-powered, autonomous ground roving vehicle of 6kg mass designed to perform simple mission planning and execution tasks autonomously and gather scientific data from modular payloads. It makes use of a modular system architecture, communicates with the lander and potentially other rovers using radio mesh networking and uses an efficient ARM-based onboard computer running embedded Linux and a suite of integrated sensors for navigation and planning. A goal-based probabilistic mission planning and execution system are under development using Bayesian methods for performing navigation, remote sensing or other simple tasks. Distributed learning will allow rovers to share contextual data from their experiences in real time. A fully-functional Beaver prototype has been built as testbed for compact rover technologies and designs, and is intended to demonstrate the feasibility of using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components and innovative autonomy and control techniques in low-cost planetary science missions of the future.