Nomad rover

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The Nomad rover is an unmanned vehicle designed as a test for such a vehicle to ride on other planets.

From June 15 to July 31 of 1997 on a mission, Carnegie Mellon University deployed the robotic rover Nomad to traverse the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile.[1][2] Nomad traveled an unprecedented 215 km in 45 days,[3] remotely controlled and driven from both the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA, and the Intelligent Mechanisms Group laboratory at Ames Research Center (ARC). This NASA-funded research program tested technologies critical to planetary exploration and enabled scientists to perform remote geological experiments. The total cost of developing Nomad and conducting the desert trek was $1.6 million.

Nomad was operated entirely under remote control from the U.S., including telepresence and autonomous guidance with simulated 4- to 15-minute time delays such as those that would be encountered on missions to Mars. 20 of the 215 km it travelled were done under autonomous control.[3] The distance was travelled in 45 days.[4]

Nomad is about the size of a small car and has a mass of 550 kg.[3] To maneuver through rough terrain, the robot has four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering with a chassis that expands to improve stability and travel over various terrain conditions. Four aluminum wheels with cleats provide traction in soft sand. For this terrestrial experiment, power was supplied by a gasoline generator that enabled the robot to travel at speeds up to about one mile per hour. Nomad employed a panospheric camera, a high-resolution video camera that focuses up into a hemispheric mirror similar to a store security mirror.[3] The video view includes all of the ground up to the horizon in the circle surrounding Nomad. The robot also had three pairs of conventional stereo cameras and a laser rangefinder for 3D visualization.

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