Slip-compensated path following for planetary exploration rovers

Daniel M. Helmick, Stergios I. Roumeliotis, Yang Cheng, Daniel S. Clouse, Max Bajracharya, Larry H. Matthies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


A system that enables continuous slip compensation for a Mars rover has been designed, implemented and field-tested. This system is composed of several components that allow the rover to accurately and continuously follow a designated path, compensate for slippage and reach intended goals in high-slip environments. These components include visual odometry, vehicle kinematics, a Kalman filter pose estimator and a slip-compensated path follower. Visual odometry tracks distinctive scene features in stereo imagery to estimate rover motion between successively acquired stereo image pairs. The kinematics for a rocker–bogie suspension system estimates vehicle motion by measuring wheel rates, and rocker, bogie and steering angles. The Kalman filter processes measurements from an inertial measurement unit and visual odometry. The filter estimate is then compared to the kinematic estimate to determine whether slippage has occurred, taking into account estimate uncertainties. If slippage is detected, the slip vector is calculated by differencing the current Kalman filter estimate from the kinematic estimate. This slip vector is then used to determine the necessary wheel velocities and steering angles to compensate for slip and follow the desired path.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1257-1280
Number of pages24
JournalAdvanced Robotics
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research described in this publication was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology under contract from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), with funding from the Mars Technology Program, NASA Science Mission Directorate. The work of S. I. R. was supported by the JPL (grant no. 1248696) and the National Science Foundation (ITR-0324864 and MRI-0420836).




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