Welcome to the project website for team AIR!

We're working on building an autonomous rover-style robot in order to show that mars rovers could greatly benefit from a little more autonomy in their lives.

The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. -Bill Gates

 

The Problem: Rovers Today

In 2011, after seven years and almost 2.5 billion dollars, the Mars Curiosity rover was launched by NASA. With its advanced suspension system, huge array of sensors, and the all-star team in the proverbial cockpit, this rover is a modern marvel. But for all that it brings to the table, there is one huge limitation: the transmission between the rover and earth takes almost 20 minutes! Because of this, NASA scientists are forced to predict the future in order to send commands to the rover which will be useful in 20minutes rather than what would be useful at that exact moment.

The Solution: Opportunistic Science

Some events simply cannot be predicted by scientists ahead of time; there exist occurrences, like dust clouds for example, that appear and disappear within minutes on mars. Imagine a Martian, a living testament to the existence extraterrestrial beings, trotting around near the rover. The rover doesn't know what to do, it's simply following the list of tasks that it was given earlier in the day. 20 minutes later, NASA receives images from the rover's on-board cameras and they see the strange figure off in the distance. "Quickly! Tell the rover to go check that out!" They exclaim. Another 20 minutes go by before the rover finally gets the queue to go take a look. By now, 40 minutes have passed since the original event and the Martian is long gone. Now imagine if the rover were able to recognize, prioritize, and investigate these types of unpredictable events on its own! That's what we're trying to do.