PIA26164: NASA's CADRE Rovers Take First Autonomous Drive
 Mission:  Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Exploration (CADRE) 
 Product Size:  3840 x 2160 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  JPL
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA26164.tif (20.59 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA26164.jpg (899.2 kB)

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Engineers prepare three small Moon-bound rovers for a drive test in a clean room at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California in December 2023. Along with a base station that will be mounted on a lunar lander, the rovers make up the CADRE (Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Exploration) technology demonstration.

This image was taken during a test of the rovers' ability to drive together as a team autonomously, without explicit commands from engineers. If the project succeeds, future missions could include teams of robots spreading out to take simultaneous, distributed scientific measurements, potentially in support of astronauts.

In this test, the rovers had their solar panels closed, and they wore protective black plastic covers over their ultralight aluminum wheels to prevent the wheels' grousers from catching on the clean room floor.

Figure A: Two engineers work close to one of the rovers during the drive test. Flight technician Nelson Serrano, left, and robotics engineer Tonya Beatty work close to one of the rovers during the drive test.

Figure B: Video of a single rover during testing, quickened to five times the actual speed of the test drive.

A division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, JPL manages the CADRE technology demonstration project for the Game Changing Development program within NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. CADRE will launch as a payload on the third lunar lander mission by Intuitive Machines, called IM-3, under NASA's CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative, which is managed by the agency's Science Mission Directorate, also in Washington. The agency's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and its Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, 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.

For more about CADRE, go to: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/cadre

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