The VIPER Atacama Mission - 14 July 97

Carlos Ernesto Guestrin, from the desert

This morning, I collected some data to test the image stabilization algorithms. I set up the camera in the back of the truck and volunteered Jim to make sure it wouldn't fly off. I drove around in different speed levels and terrain types. The final objective of the Viper system is to create an augmented reality interface for tele-operated rovers. As part of this interface, experiments on stabilizing the images received from the rover are being carried out.

I tested the current image stabilization algorithm with the data and the results were good. Although in parts I was driving at 10km per hour, the image wasn't as shaky as I expected.

In the future, a system like this could be fully integrated in a tele-operated rover. To demonstrate the concept, I placed the sensor head on Nomad and took a panorama. Then the robot was driven for about 400 meters with the sensor head attached and I took another panorama.

Latter, I was able to process one of the panoramas, obtaining a position within 280 meters of the GPS value. The position was compared to Nomad's differential GPS and the system was powered by Nomad's power system.

The most amazing fact of the day occurred while I was taking the panoramas. When I was setting I up the system on Nomad, I began to feel some drops of water on my face. It's unbelievable, it rained!!! This morning the sky was dark and I joked to Mark that it was going to rain, this was totally unexpected in the driest desert in the world.

Today was my last full day in the desert. I was beginning to enjoy it out here, it would be really nice to have time travel around. I was told the is a lagoon in the Salar where you can find flamingos!!! Also, there are the lakes on the highlands by the Andes and the volcanos and probably many other beautiful places that I have not heard of.

Today, the day ended with a beautiful rainbow in the desert.

  back to Viper system

This work has been conducted at the Robotics Institute at the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University. It has been partially funded by NASA; Fabio Cozman has a scholarship from CNPq (Brazil). We thank these four organizations for all their support.