18 September 1997
News - Other (None)
Rover Desert Trials a Success
LunaCorp Closer to Goal of a Commercial Lunar Vehicle
by Sam Coniglio
A prototype lunar rover called Nomad successfully passed field trials on the Atacama Desert in Chile. Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute built the rover. Sponsored by NASA, the experiment tested the ability to safely maneuver over hazardous terrain without human intervention, and to transmit high resolution video data.

Nomad is a gasoline-powered rover with navigation sensors and computers that allowed it to elude obstacles without human control.

Nomad drove over 215 kilometers, 20 kilometers of which were logged under the rover's control using hazard avoidance sensors. Its panospheric camera provided 1 million video-based still images in 360-degree format. The experiment validated several technologies for remotely controlling the vehicle at great distances.

Plans for a solar-powered Nomad-2 are in the works, and could be the
prototype for a flight-ready lunar exploration vehicle.

LunaCorp, a private space tourism firm, has been working closely with the Robotics Institute since 1993. LunaCorp's vision is to place two privately financed rovers on the moon, and use their high resolution cameras for simulated lunar rides for tourists back on Earth. LunaCorp is actively negotiating with theme parks and television companies for rights to the theme rides.
Source: Space News, 1-7 September 1997, p. 8

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Sam Coniglio 18 September 1997
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