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Nasa's Robot Rovers Keep on Rolling

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Researchers from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) are working with robotics engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to prevent the space agency's Rovers from getting stuck on the moon or Mars. The soft terrain of the moon and Mars may cause wheels to slip and excess traction loss, which may leave a Rover immobile and make a mission impossible. NASA could assess the loss of traction and determine when and how to apply corrective action once it knows how deep and fast a wheel sinks.

The team used a machine-vision camera to monitor each wheel's interaction with terrain. "We devised a computer-vision method that may reliably detect the wheel-soil boundary and determine the sinkage," says UALR professor Cang Ye. "Existing methods fail in this particular case while our method consistently succeeds in sinkage detection under low-illumination, non-uniform lighting conditions, as well as scenario with shadow."

From University of Arkansas at Little Rock
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