Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Students Take The Leash As FIDO, Prototype Mars Rover, Heads Back To The Desert

Date:
May 19, 2000
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Several groups of high school students will take the controls of NASA's prototype Mars rover, the Field Integrated Design and Operations (FIDO) rover, this week as part of ongoing field tests designed to simulate robotic driving conditions on the red planet.

Several groups of high school students will take the controls of NASA's prototype Mars rover, the Field Integrated Design and Operations (FIDO) rover, this week as part of ongoing field tests designed to simulate robotic driving conditions on the red planet.

Related Articles


"This year, we are focusing the rover tests on controlling FIDO as if it were on Mars," said Dr. Eric Baumgartner, systems engineer for FIDO rover development at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "The science and engineering teams are sequestered in the mission control room at JPL's Planetary Robotics Laboratory while the rover is in a geologically interesting site in an extremely remote portion of central Nevada. The teams will only see the site through the eyes of the rover."

As part of the formal engineering tests, two days have been set aside for student participation. The student groups are located at their schools around the country in Ithaca, N.Y.; Birmingham, Ala.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Flagstaff, Ariz. In addition, a group of students from Copenhagen, Denmark will be in the JPL mission control room for their portion of the test drive.

The students will use the same tools as the engineers and will view rover telemetry and develop their own command sequences for communicating with the rover. Each student group is responsible for creating and executing a part of the sequence that controls the rover's return to the vicinity of a simulated lander.

"The students have a real role helping us complete a very complicated rover field test. We are providing an exciting venue for motivated high school students to apply verbal, written, mathematical, and computer skills to solve real problems involving simulated surface operations," said Dr. Raymond Arvidson, a geologist from Washington University, St. Louis, and mission director for the field tests.

FIDO is about the size of a St. Bernard. It weighs about 70 kilograms (150 pounds) and is approximately 85 centimeters (about 33 inches) wide, 105 centimeters (41 inches) long, and 55 centimeters (22 inches) high. The rover moves at an average speed of about 200 meters an hour (about one-tenth of a mile per hour) over smooth terrain, using its onboard stereo vision systems to detect and avoid obstacles "on-the-fly." During these tests, FIDO is powered both by solar panels that cover the top of the rover and by replaceable, rechargeable batteries. FIDO is about twice the size of Mars Pathfinder's Sojourner rover and is more capable of performing its job without frequent human help.

The FIDO science and engineering teams are exploring the remote field site through the eyes of the rover by collecting black-and-white and color panoramic images, near-infrared spectra, and close-up measurements at the site in an attempt to characterize the area's geology and geologic history.

During a portion of the field test, FIDO is being joined by K9, a rover under development at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. During the joint field operation, K9 will act as a "scout" by moving ahead of FIDO in search of rocks that are the best candidates for core sampling. K9 is controlled from JPL using Ames' "Virtual Dashboard," a graphical user interface that lets the rover operator send commands to K9, which executes them using onboard executive software.

The planning of K9's command sequences is supported by a suite of software tools called Viz, developed at Ames by the Autonomy and Robotics Area. Viz uses images from stereo cameras onboard K9 to create a realistic 3D model of the surrounding environment. During the trial, this model will be displayed as a virtual reality environment that allows the scientists and rover operators to travel around the area, measuring distances and object sizes, in order to recommend the best sampling sites and traverse routes.

"This field trial is a 'proof of concept' of a successful multi-rover experiment," said Dr. Nicola Muscettola, Autonomy and Robotics Area Lead at Ames. Like FIDO, K9 is controlled from JPL's mission control center.

The FIDO rover is a testbed for future missions, including the proposed Mars Mobile Lander that is currently under study for a possible launch in 2003.

"FIDO's development began in 1998 as a way to integrate and test new robotic technologies for future Mars rover missions," says Dr. Paul Schenker, who leads the FIDO project at JPL. "A major strength of this work has been its rapid prototyping, science-driven style. We've developed a systems-oriented approach with the ability to quickly bring diverse robotics technologies, advanced science instrument designs, and a close knit science and engineering operations team together in realistic field tests. FIDO has become a terrific design tool for advancing NASA's capabilities and reducing risk for future Mars missions."

Pictures of FIDO in the field can be retrieved at: www.jpl.nasa.gov/pictures/tech/fido

JPL manages the FIDO mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Students Take The Leash As FIDO, Prototype Mars Rover, Heads Back To The Desert." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000519070128.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2000, May 19). Students Take The Leash As FIDO, Prototype Mars Rover, Heads Back To The Desert. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000519070128.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Students Take The Leash As FIDO, Prototype Mars Rover, Heads Back To The Desert." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000519070128.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that NORAD is ready to track Santa Claus as he delivers gifts next week. Speaking tongue-in-cheek, he said if Santa drops anything off his sleigh, "we've got destroyers out there to pick them up." (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) More than a year after NASA declared the Kepler spacecraft broken beyond repair, scientists have figured out how to continue getting useful data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 16, 2014) NASA's Mars Curiosity rover finds methane in the Martian atmosphere and organic chemicals in the planet's soil, the latest hint that Mars was once suitable for microbial life. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins