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
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:
- The Virginia Air & Space Center
(Hampton, VA) April 21, 2007 - 2012
- The 2005 World Exposition
(Aichi, Japan) Mar. 25 - Sept. 25, 2005
- The National Science Center
(Augusta, GA) Jan. 24 - Sept. 30, 2004
- The San Francisco Exploratorium
(San Francisco, CA) Jan. 2 - Mar. 5, 2004
- The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
(Washington, DC) Jan. 3 - Dec. 2004
- The National Air & Space Museum
Udvar-Hazy Center (Dulles Airport) Jan. 24 2004 - ongoing
- The NASA/Ames Mars Center
(Mountain View, CA) Dec. 29, 2003 - ongoing
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.
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.