- NASA’s rover has taken the first ever autonomous driving on the Red Planet.
- Enhanced AutoNav technology allows the rover to take charge of its adventures.
- Perseverance, the agency said, is “thinking while driving” as its wheels spin.
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This technology allows Perseverance to take control of its wheels and drive itself across the Red Planet, without having to rely too heavily on human drivers from Earth.
According to NASAAutoNav is equipped with more powerful features than its predecessor, Curiosity of. These include the ability to make 3D maps of the terrain in front of you, identify hazards, and plan routes around obstacles. This means that perseverance will be able to drive more direct roads and travel at much higher speeds.
Vandy Verma, chief engineer, roving planner and driver at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California. “Rover thinks self-driving while its wheels are spinning”.
The agency stated that Perseverance may be able to reach top speeds of 393 feet (120 meters) per hour. That’s nearly six times faster than Curiosity, which was able to reach 66 feet per hour.
“We’ve accelerated AutoNav four or five times,” said Michael McHenry, mobility leader and part of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s roving planners team. “We are driving much farther in much less time than Curiosity has shown.”
AutoNav will be a key feature in letting the six-wheeled robot complete it scientific campaign On the floor of Jezero Crater. This includes scanning and digging up Martian soil for signs of ancient microscopic life.
“We are now able to drive through this more complex terrain instead of getting around it: it is not something we have been able to do before,” said Jennifer Trosper, Mars 2020 Perseverance rover project manager.
AutoNav does not completely eliminate the need for human drivers, but rather increases the autonomy of the rover where possible.
Team members said they look forward to letting AutoNav “take the wheel.” But they will also be willing to step in when the situation calls for it.
By using techniques like these, NASA ultimately aims to Transport humans to Mars and establish a settlement there.