Updates are a’coming…

It’s been quiet on the blog recently as we’ve been hard at work getting our rover up and running ready for the challenge on the 20th October!

We’ll be posting some photos later but here’s a quick run down of our progress to date…

The track lifting mechanism is now completed and working, using our microcontrollers we can stow and deploy the tracks as required depending on the terrain.  Due to the total size of our tracks we just now have to wait for the (patient, brilliant) workshop guys to drill and tap the hundreds of holes needed to attach our grousers to the belts!

The navigation system has been completed, and works in two parts.  We have a stereo camera mounted on a pan-tilt unit for our primary navigation once on-site.  We’re ironing out a few bugs but its nearly there.  The second part is a “home-beacon” system, incorporating our secondary rover/relay station, positioned on the rim of the crater.  As well as acting as a communications relay the rovers on-board camera will detect coloured LEDs on the primary rover in the crater, and the ground-station software will use this to help orientate the rover toward our entry/exit point on the rim.  With the dark environment this is likely to be a crucial aid in the task of returning the sample back to the lander site.

Our communications system is also now completed.  Based on 802.11b/g wireless ethernet, we have successfully completed remote teleoperation and range testing of our development rover, with a total record distance of over 300m, non-line of sight connectivity from the control site!  We also incorporated endurance tests of our new, smaller and light-weight Li-Ion battery pack, and were thoroughly impressed by the results.

More info and pictures will be coming up, and we’ll be posting more regular updates as we approach the challenge date.

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