PIA25665: CADRE Rover Testing in JPL's Mars Yard
 Mission:  Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Exploration (CADRE) 
 Product Size:  3840 x 2160 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  JPL
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA25665.tif (17.4 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA25665.jpg (617 kB)

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A development model rover that is part of NASA's CADRE (Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Exploration) technology demonstration took its first autonomous drive around the Mars Yard at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California in June 2023. The CADRE team tested a new wheel design, surface navigation software, and mobility capabilities, among other aspects of the project. Engineer Kristopher Sherrill is shown recording video of the test.

The rover being tested is similar in size and appearance to the flight models of the CADRE rovers, which are still being built. Slated to arrive at the Moon in spring 2024 as part of NASA's CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative, CADRE is designed to demonstrate that multiple robots can cooperate and explore together autonomously – without direct input from human mission controllers.

A trio of the miniature solar-powered rovers, each about the size of a carry-on suitcase, will explore the Moon as a team, communicating via radio with each other and a base station aboard a lunar lander. By taking simultaneous measurements from multiple locations, CADRE will also demonstrate how multirobot missions can record data impossible for a single robot to achieve – a tantalizing prospect for future missions.

JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages CADRE for the Game Changing Development program within NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. The technology demonstration will launch as a payload on the third lunar lander mission by Intuitive Machines, called IM-3, under the CLPS initiative, which is managed by NASA's Science Mission Directorate, also in Washington. The agency's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and its Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, have both supported the project. Motiv Space Systems designed and built key hardware elements at the company's Pasadena, California, facility. Clemson University in South Carolina contributed research in support of the project.

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