The LMRs' Role
In-Field LMR Control
The fact that the LMRs will be interacting with humans in their field excursions raises an important question. How will the LMRs be controlled in the field?
As our astronauts will be wearing space suits, the control mechanism cannot involve very intricate motions. Using a mouse and keyboard, for example, would not be an ideal means of controlling the LMRs. A handheld touchscreen, however, might offer an ideal means for sending commands to the LMR. The astronauts would use a touchpen, large enough to be comfortably held, to select their orders from a list of basic commands. These orders would be high-level commands that are interpreted by the decision making semi-autonomous systems on the LMRs. Commands such as: "stop," "scan," "follow rover," and "travel straight" would be accessible through the touchpad.
For more involved control, however, the astronauts would have the option of using the touchpad as a remote control system. A digital glove built into the suit, or physical controls connected to the touchpad, would allow the astronauts to directly manipulate the LMR, making it turn, stop, go, scan, and rotate in real-time. Such a remote control system would be used to maneuver the LMR across particularly complicated terrain to reach an area, such as a cavern, or the bottom of a valley, that is inaccessible to the astronauts. For guidance, the astronaut could view the LMR's surroundings via a direct link between the touchpad and the onboard cameras on the LMR. As there are two cameras on the LMR it could be possible to install a virtual reality sytem on the astronaut's helmet to allow the astronaut to view the LMR's surroundings in 3D.Continue>
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