NASA Desert Rats Test Linux Robots

Posted 18 Sep 2006 at 19:08 UTC by steve Share This

Several readers sent us links to stories about NASA's D-RATs program which is testing several planetary surface exploration robots and other EVA hardware in the Arizona desert Meteor Crater. A LinuxDevices article provides some interesting details on K-10, a four-wheeled robot based on off-the-shelf hardware. K-10 is designed as a testbed for lunar rover research involving human-robot interaction. An IBM Thinkpad X31 running Red Hat Linux serves as K-10's brain. Multiple cameras are connected via firewire. USB is used to communicate with the robot's power switching modules. A variety of sensors and instruments are connected using serial ports. For more details on the design of K10 and its predecessor, K9, see the paper Extensible Hardware Architecture for Mobile Robots (PDF format). SCOUT (Science, Crew, Operations and Utility Testbed) is a much larger, teleoperated vehicle that uses two Dell D400 Laptops running Gentoo Linux. More info on SCOUT can be found in the NASA SCOUT research summary (PDF format). For more details and photos of these as well as other planetary robot test platforms see the NASA Desert Test 2006 website.

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