Future missions to the moon or Mars will use planetary rovers for exploration or construction tasks. Operation of these rovers as unmanned robotic vehicles with some form of semi-autonomous control is desirable to reduce the cost and increase the capability and safety of many types of missions. A program to develop semi-autonomous navigation (SAN) was initiated in late 1988 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under sponsorship of the Office of Aeronautics and Exploration Technology of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A testbed vehicle with all necessary power, sensing, and computing resources on-board to demonstrate SAN has been developed and initial testing has been completed. Vision-based navigation techniques used on this vehicle and planned for implementation are described.
Brian H. Wilcox,
"Vision-based planetary rover navigation", Proc. SPIE 1360, Visual Communications and Image Processing '90: Fifth in a Series, (1 September 1990); doi: 10.1117/12.24177; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.24177