Last week, members of the Astrobotic team conducted a mission simulation at Robot City. The test simulated all post-landing procedures including rover egress and 500 meter traverse. Operators were able to remotely drive down lander ramps and navigate around obstacles over a lunar-like communications link (high latency, low bandwidth). The new mission control interface, visual odometry algorithm, radio-link, and power system were tested extensively. The rover traveled about 400 meters out of the intended 500 before slipping on an embankment, causing one of the chains in the chain drive to disconnect from the wheel.
The field test provided valuable insight for several of the rover components, communications, and navigation interface. Red Rover’s ordeal on the embankment led to reinforcement of the chain drive assembly – encountering a similar slope on the moon is not unlikely.
Frequent field tests are invaluable for developing and improving the designs of robotic systems.
The mission control trailer from which operators drove the rover. They were not able to see the rover course, simulating remote operation
'Red Truck Lander' marked the starting point of the mission and provided rover egress simulation
Red Rover makes its way over the course
Team member Ethan Minogue watches rover ...