MAVEN
UIU Mars Rover

OUR System Acceptance Review


Science Sub-System

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We developed a scientific exploration subsystem involving a three DoF secondary manipulator and analysis chamber to categorize any soil and rock sample into extant, extinct or ‘ No Presence of Life’. Mesh of multiple end effectors and a circular scoop motion can effectively collect up to four soil samples preventing any cross-contamination alongside the uv lights in the funnel. The samples are each deposited into 3 isolated beakers for the detection of biomolecules with chemical tests, which involve: Protein using ninhydrin solution, Lipid using Sudan III solution and Carbohydrate using benedict's solution. Qualitative color changes are observed through a camera and the results are then streamed back to the base station for immediate evaluation and feedback as input to our customized algorithm, classifying the sample into Extant, Extinct, and/or No Presence of Life. USB microscope feedback along with the presence of mVOC sensors have been used to detect whether a rock sample is Extant. We also developed a pipeline of multiple binary classifiers trained on a custom dataset of 765 rock samples involving deep neural networks and transfer learning to effectively classify rock samples without any physical contact. The outcomes of the sensor feedback and model predictions have been used to classify a rock sample. A full mock test has been conducted to evaluate the performance of the sample acquisition and analysis process.

Mechanical Sub-System

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We have designed multiple courses to evaluate the rover for the extreme retrieval and delivery mission under extra-terrestrial conditions. Our rover is capable of traversing up a steep incline and different types of terrain and vertical drops. A “Rocker-bogie” suspension with a four bevel-gear meshed differential mechanism has been implemented to absorb both frontal and rear impacts. The rover has been developed with an improved maneuverability including accurate on-spot horizontal movement and rotations. The arm of the rover is adept at handling weighted objects like towing and lifting a 15 kg payload or picking up small items or tools.

We have designed multiple courses to evaluate the rover for the extreme retrieval and delivery mission under extra-terrestrial conditions. Our rover is capable of traversing up a steep incline and different types of terrain and vertical drops. A “Rocker-bogie” suspension with a four bevel-gear meshed differential mechanism has been implemented to absorb both frontal and rear impacts. The rover has been developed with an improved maneuverability including accurate on-spot horizontal movement and rotations. The arm of the rover is adept at handling weighted objects like towing and lifting a 15 kg payload or picking up small items or tools.

Electrical Sub-System

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We built a 6 Series high density lithium-ion battery pack using 18650 cells to provide 24 volts to the rover and a 120 minute operational timeframe. Enhanced modularity is implemented using various custom PCBs which are designed and simulate the real time electrical wiring of the rover. The electronics subsystems focus on the integration of core electronics and embedded systems. Moreover, Our custom power distribution board prevents issues such as mismatched battery voltages and subsystem level shorts. A kill switch has been provided for stopping the rover in case of emergencies.

Software and Autonomous Sub-System

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The autonomous navigation system was developed with the help of the Robotic Operating System (ROS) running on an NVIDIA Jetson NX by involving computer vision and GPS data. The Rover utilizes an effective path planning algorithm to strategically decide how to traverse GPS waypoints. The customized global and local planner was implemented using the generated point clouds of a depth-sensing camera to traverse the objective. GPS accuracy has been rigorously tested and an extended Kalman filter was implemented to filter and integrate sensor data. Maven can successfully identify the IDs and distances of AR tags relative to the rover and determine the gate's directionality and center. By using a carrot navigation approach Maven can align itself precisely between the two posts and pass through the gate in the correct direction. We have developed test courses that imitate the actual autonomous mission and evaluated the performance of the developed algorithm.

Communication Sub-System

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MAVEN is equipped with a 2.4 Gigahertz radio and linearly polarized antennas. The radio communicates with a three-meter base station antenna from up to three kilometers away. A combination of omnidirectional and directional antennas in the base station transmits a wide range network strength that is received by the omnidirectional antennas on the rover body. To facilitate the rover operation, Rover activities are monitored from various angular perspectives using 4 high-resolution Cameras and transmitted to the base station with low latency. A simple interface allows concurrent viewing of feedback data from the rover with alternative controls in the developed dashboard of MAVEN.

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