Abstract for the October 31, 1997 Robotics Institute Seminar

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The 1997 Atacama Desert Trek

Red Whittaker, Dimi Apostolopolous, Eric Rollins and Mark Maimone
Field Robotics Center
Robotics Institute
Carnegie Mellon University

4:00pm, Adamson Wing, Baker Hall

The robot Nomad recently set a record by traveling farther than any remotely controlled robot has before over rough territory. The robot's four wheels logged more than 220 kilometers (137 miles) across Chile's rugged Atacama Desert from June 15 to July 31, 1997, during a field experiment designed to prepare for future missions to Antarctica, the Moon and Mars. The Atacama Desert Trek was an international event that set new standards for all robots planning to explore new worlds.
      Nomad is the latest prototype developed in Carnegie Mellon's Lunar Rover Initiative, a research program sponsored by NASA. The Atacama Desert Trek successfully demonstrated several new technologies for planetary exploration on Nomad: a "panospheric" camera that takes pictures with a 360-degree field of view, an actively pointed communications antenna, a novel locomotion system that provides steering and stowage capabilities, a system for self-position estimation using skyline navigation, and an autonomous navigation system that enabled Nomad to drive itself over 21 kilometers (13 miles) of rough terrain.
      We will present the initial technical results from the Atacama Desert Trek, show videos and slides to give you a taste of life in Chile's Atacama Desert (both robotic and otherwise), and provide a sneak preview of what's in store for Nomad in the years ahead.

Biographical Sketch
Red Whittaker is the director of Carnegie Mellon's Field Robotics Center and Principal Investigator of the Lunar Rover project. Dimi Apostolopoulos is a Visiting Scientist and project manager for the Antarctic Meteorite Search program. Mark Maimone is a Research Associate and was software and navigation lead for the Atacama Desert Trek. Eric Rollins is the mechanical lead for Nomad and was project manager for the Atacama Desert Trek.

For appointments, please contact Dimi Apostolopoulos: da1v@frc.ri.cmu.edu

Last Modified on: Mon Oct 27, 1997

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