Field Testing

I led a 1000m field-test of a prototype lunar rover. The purpose of the field-test was to test the solar panels, electronics, pose estimation software, and sensors developed in Red Whittaker’s graduate-level Advanced Mobile Robot Development class.

Robots destined for the Moon require extensive prototyping and testing in analogous terrain. In Red Whittaker’s Advanced Mobile Robot Development class, the class developed a prototype lunar rover. I developed the visual odometry software and led the field-test to evaluate the solar panels, electronics, and robot software.

The field test took place at Robot City which is a test site in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The power system, visual odometry, and the graphical user interface underwent testing and the reliability of hardware and software was demonstrated.  The rocky terrain around Robot City shares qualities with the lunar surface and provided ideal conditions for lunar robot testing.

Map of Robot City site

The field test took place at Robot City. The robot was controlled from a trailer labeled by a red dot and “Mission control”. The robot began the field-test at the start and followed the path to the place marked “End”.

Reviewing data from the rover

Model Apollo lander module built in 2008 for mission simulation

The mission control trailer from which operators drove the rover. They were not able to see the rover course, simulating remote operation

'Red Truck Lander' marked the starting point of the mission and provided rover egress simulation

Red Rover makes its way over the course

Spray paint was used to measure ground truth