Terrain-Adaptive Navigation Architecture

A navigation system designed for a Mars rover has been designed to deal with rough terrain and/or potential slip when evaluating and executing paths. The system also can be used for any off-road, autonomous vehicles. The system uses more sophisticated terrain analysis, but also converges to computational complexity similar to that of currently deployed navigation systems when the terrain is benign. The system consists of technologies that have been developed, integrated, and tested onboard research rovers in Mars analog terrains, including goodness maps and terrain triage, terrain classification, remote slip prediction, path planning, high-fidelity traversability analysis (HFTA), and slip-compensated path following.

The system enables vehicles to autonomously navigate different terrain challenges including dry river channel systems, putative shorelines, and gullies emanating from canyon walls. Several of the technologies within this innovation increase the navigation system’s capabilities compared to earlier rover navigation algorithms.

This work was done by Daniel M. Helmick, Anelia Angelova, Larry H. Matthies, and Daniel M. Helmick of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The software used in this innovation is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO- 44588.

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