Since there are mechanics on the Red Planet, NASA’s Curiosity rover has been powered with a new algorithm that would help the rover maintain the stability of its wheels. The software known as the traction control has the capacity to adjust the speed of the rover’s wheels depending on its surroundings and the type of rocks it’s investigating. The software, which took about eighteen months of countless testing processes, was launched on Mars in March and was approved at the Mars Science Laboratory (JPL) on June 8.
Since 2013, the engineers managing the JPL had been researching how to reduce the impacts of wear and tear on the rover’s wheels due to abrasion on the rugged surface of the Red Planet. When on a flat ground, all the four wheels rotate at the same speed. But when the wheels are moving on an uneven terrain, the impact makes the wheels to start slipping.
The impact brings challenges especially when the rover slides over the pointed and embedded rocks. When this continues for a long time, the eventually experiences high forces that lead to cracks and punctures on the Curiosity’s six wheels. The wheels are basically designed for climbing rocks though the space between them is more vulnerable. If the rover climbs pointed rocks, it’s likely that the skin between the wheels is damaged.
Though the scientists still believe the wheels has more years on top of its estimated lifespan, the current upgrade is to ensure the rover has more extended life to accomplish its mission on Mars. The software uses real-time facts to regulate the speed of the wheels thus reducing the intense pressure from the rocks and tough terrains.
The Curiosity rover was launched on Mars in 2012 and since then it has been roving on the planet examining the type of rocks and their magnitudes. Recently, the rover has also been upgraded with powerful software that would improve its brain to make decisions on its own without the human intervention. It’s the first time in the space history that the artificial intelligence is being used on the robotic space missions.
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