Over the past year, the Mars rover Curiosity has covered a lot of ground on the Martian surface. But during that time, its been controlled from back on Earth, by human drivers. That’s now changed.
Yesterday, NASA announced that Curiosity has been updated with the capability for autonomous driving. The software was adapted from that used by Curiosity‘s cousin, Opportunity, to autonomously drive elsewhere on Mars.
The software works by syncing with Curiosity‘s cameras: they observe the terrain, and the software then calculates the best route for the rover to take.
“Curiosity takes several sets of stereo pairs of images, and the rover’s computer processes that information to map any geometric hazard or rough terrain,” said NASA engineer Mark Maimone in apress release. “The rover considers all the paths it could take to get to the designated endpoint for the drive and chooses the best one.”
The rover successfully stretched its legs – er, wheels – yesterday, travelling 33 feet along the Martian surface by itself. Scientists at NASA gave the rover an end point to travel to, but it selected its own way to get there.
The next step for Curiosity is its trip to the base of Mount Sharp , a total distance of about 4 and a half miles. A route has been selected based on orbital images of Mars, but now Curiosity‘s own cameras – and software – will guide the trip.
Along the way, Curiosity will be stopping at a few points selected by scientists which may hold points of interest for learning more about how Mars evolved and changed over time.
“Each waypoint represents an opportunity for Curiosity to pause during its long journey to Mount Sharp and study features of local interest,” saidNASA’s John Grotzinger.
پس از گذشت یک سال، مریخ نورد کنجکاوی تا کنون بخش های زیادی از خاک مریخ را در نوردیده و پشت سر گذارده است. اما تا کنون همیشه برای حرکت، نیازمند کنترل زمینی و توسط راننده انسانی بوده است. ولی حالا داستان عوض شده است.