The Rovers domain was constructed as a simplified representation of the problem that confronts the NASA Mars Exploration Rover missions launched in 2003, the Mars Science Laboratory mission planned for 2009 and other similar missions that are expected as part of the ESA AURORA project. The STRIPS version of the problem involves planning for several rovers, equipped with different, but possibly overlapping, sets of equipment to traverse a planet surface. The rovers must travel between waypoints gathering data and transmitting it back to a lander. The traversal is complicated by the fact that certain rovers are restricted to travelling over certain terrain types and this makes particular routes impassable to some of the rovers. Data transmission is also constrained by the visibility of the lander from the waypoints.
The metric version of the domain introduces an energy cost associated with actions and an action allowing rovers to recharge, provided they are in the sun. The problems sought solutions that minimised numbers of recharges, so the use of energy was required to be as efficient as possible.
In the metric temporal variant the domain involves both energy and time management, although the instances require planners to optimise total duration. This demand implies the need for efficient energy use, since recharging is an action that consumes a considerable amount of time and, in our model, requires the recharging rover to remain in one place during the period of recharging. The opportunity for careful division of labour between the rovers makes both temporal variants complex and interesting problems.