NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover has many moving parts, including a robotic arm, a drill, a pillar, metal covers, a high-performance antenna, and a navigation system. Unintentional collisions with a rover body or a Martian area during movement may cause irreparable damage. In addition, the SuperCam tool shoots a LIBS laser at the top to form plasma and perform spectroscopy, and we want to prevent the laser from leaking out any part of the rover.
To avoid this, Perseverance monitors incoming movement and laser shooting using its Rover Collision Model aircraft software and automatically stops any activity before a collision occurs. Making a robot arm collision explores Perseverance, projects the next arm into the future, and checks that any time in that movement, it could collide with a rover body. If the predicted direction does not have an unexpected collision, it allows for the first movement. Sometimes the arm needs to be as close as possible to the hardware or touch other parts of the rover body, such as when pulling to replace piercing pieces or a reservoir sample. The rover knows where the target is and allows it to happen. When Perseverance automatically selects a scientific target on the board using AEGIS, it uses the Rover Collision Model to filter any marks that may cause conflict before deciding the SuperCam targeted selection.
Usually, the task team sends instructions to the rover if sol and Perseverance need to protect themselves if some of those tasks do not go as planned. If the piercing machine encountered a minor error, as with Sol 374, the robot arm could be in front of the rover, touching the target. The planned LIBS shooting in pursuit of the same program the following day identified a broken rock that the arm had blocked. This was well avoided as it was intended for the Rover Collision Model on Sol 375.
Collision testing occurs automatically on the board, and the task team usually does not execute explicit commands. Unless the action fails to assess the conflict during the ground simulation and must be corrected, the task team may not even notice you. The Rover Collision Model was one of the flight software modules I could design and design, so I can’t help but wonder what it does in the background. Since sol 460, it conducted 64,000 collisions on Mars without error; reporting crashes where expected.
We have arrived at Hogwallow Flats. I look forward to seeing the rover look at more collisions with zaps as it conducts an exciting scientific investigation.