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This paper presents a new application of computer vision to space robotics: A teleoperation interface which analyzes images sent by a mobile robot in space missions and produces position estimates based on the images. The estimates are displayed to the robot operator as additional information to prevent loss of orientation. The current version of the interface detects mountain formations in images and automatically searches for mountain peaks in a given topographic map. A new algorithm for position estimation uses a statistical description of the various disturbances and signals in the measurement process to produce estimates. We have tested the system with real images obtained in the Pittsburgh East and Dromedary Peak USGS quadrangles; we report significant improvements in speed and accuracy compared to previous systems.

Fabio G. Cozman