A lunar rover requires an accurate localisation system in order to operate in an uninhabited environment. However, every additional piece of equipment mounted on it drastically increases the overall cost of the mission. This paper reports a possible solution for a micro-rover using a sole monocular omnidirectional camera. Our approach relies on a combination of feature tracking and template matching for Visual Odometry. The results are afterwards refined using a Graph-Based SLAM algorithm, which also provides a sparse reconstruction of the terrain. We tested the algorithm on a lunar rover prototype in a lunar analogue environment and the experiments show that the estimated trajectory is accurate and the combination with the template matching algorithm allows an otherwise poor detection of spot turns.
This paper investigates kinetic behavior of a planetary rover with attention to tire-soil traction mechanics and articulated body dynamics, and thereby study the control when the rover travels over natural rough terrain. Experiments are carried out with a rover test bed to observe the physical phenomena of soils and to model the traction mechanics, using the tire slip ratio as a state variable. The relationship of load-traction factor versus the slip ratio is modeled theoretically then verified by experiments, as well as specific parameters to characterize the soil are identified. A dynamic simulation model is developed considering the characteristics of wheel actuators, the mechanics of tire-soil traction, and the articulated body dynamics of a suspension mechanism. Simulations are carried out to be compared with the corresponding experimental data and verified to represent the physical behavior of a rover. Finally, a control method is proposed and tested. The proposed method keeps the slip ratio within a small value and limits excessive tire force, so that the rover can successfully traverse over the obstacle without digging the soil or being stuck.