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    The Personal Exploration Rover (PER) landed in science centers across the nation in January 2004, just when the NASA Mars Exploration Rovers began to land and explore Mars. More than 50,000 interactive excursions have now taken place at the museum installations.

    You can hone your skills as a space scientist by using PER to look for signs of life in each rover's Mars Yard home. The rover's camera is mounted on a specially designed head that can create a panoramic image and can also detect obstacles using an optical rangefinder. Once you have downloaded a panorama from PER, you can choose a rock for science testing, then estimate rover heading and distance to reach the rock.

    Next, it is the rover's turn. It will autonomously traverse the Mars Yard following your directions safely while continually checking for unexpected obstacles enroute. After reaching the goal location, PER scans the nearby area and autonomously locates then approaches the target rock. Finally, PER illuminates the rock with ultraviolet light to look for signs of organofluorescence, providing the mission scientist with science data. Take a look a some screenshots of the exhibit interaction.

    Our educational goals include demonstrating the role of rovers as science tools to the public and demonstrating the need for on-board rover autonomy during Mars missions and beyond. You can travel to various sites where you will be able to interact with Personal Exploration Rovers yourself.

    Our installation sites are:

    We have completed formal educational evaluation of the PER installations at the San Francisco Exploratorium and the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. Our journal article for the International Journal of Engineering Education describes the PER project and our conclusions, that the robot has successfully engaged visitors across a range of ages and in both genders. This article and others can be downloaded from the Publications page.

    2005 marks the end of the Personal Rover Project and the beginning of a new project, TeRK. Building on our experience from the Personal Rover Project, TeRK aims to bring educational robotics to a large community of users in secondary- and university-level institutions as well as home and hobby robot enthusiasts.

    Thanks to NASA/Ames Intelligent Systems and to Intel Corp. for making the Personal Exploration Rover possible. Thanks to our museum partners for playing pivotal roles in bringing this exhibit to life.

    Open Source
    We have archived all source code associated with the PER, including the firmware running on the Cerebellum motor controller, the on-board single-board computer (Intel Stayton or Stargate board) and the off-board kiosk computer (running Java). See Downloads for a copy of the documentation and source code.

    For more information on the Intel Stargate processor, PER's main processor, see the sourceforge site, the distributor link (XBow), and a PDF description of the Stargate.

    How can I get one?
    We have associates who are considering a batch build of 50 PERs if they can get advance orders for the purchase of 50 or more total robots. If you are interested in purchasing one or more robots, please let them know by contacting Steve Richards. The cost per robot will be roughly $8000. When the total number of orders reaches 50, a build will be completed for you.



  The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University was established in 1979
to conduct basic and applied research in robotic technologies.  It is part of the School of Computer Science