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  • A Concept of Operations for a Crew’s Surface Rover

    Paper ID



    • Robert Ambrose




    United States




    Modes of control, duty cycle estimates, crew interfaces and modular work-packages are proposed for a rover that will support a crew of humans working on and exploring a planetary surface. The proposal is founded on experiments conducted using NASA’s Lunar Electric Rover (LER) during field trials in 2008 and 2009. The prototype rover is based on a modular chassis called Chariot, of which two units (Chariot 1A and 1B) have been built to date. Each LER combines a Chariot chassis with a cabin, forming a small pressurized rover that can support a crew of 2, but with the contingency capacity to house four humans if one rover is lost. Designed to work as a pair of rovers, this dual vehicle team can explore hundreds of kilometers and support multiple space walks each day. The general arrangement of the rover will be described with a mapping of subsystems to assumed functions. This will include both the chassis and cabin design features, as well as assumptions about interfaces with the surface suit, habitat and other surface assets. Several modes of control have been tested. These include the crew interfaces for driving the rovers from inside their cabins, suited crew driving from outside on the chassis, and supervised control across time delay from Earth. The rovers are designed to periodically dock with additional surface assets to recharge and restock consumables. Duty cycle estimates for the pair of rovers will be postulated for a mix of surface assets, from a minimum set of power units to more extensible operations as part of a larger convoy. Crew interfaces will be proposed based on field test results, categorized as either for cabin egress/ingress, interior cabin controls/living, or exterior gear/connections. A set of modular tools will be proposed for the rovers, described as work packages that can be added to perform specific tasks. This will again be based on field test results with prototype work packages such as bull dozer blades, sensors, auxiliary power modules and additional crew accommodations. The paper will conclude with a look at how such a rover would work with other robotic systems being proposed as part of the International Architecture Working Group.