Form 9.B Project Summary



Proposal Number:


Project Title:

Planetary Rover Navigation Using

Landmark Recognition

Technical Abstract (Limit 200 words)

We propose to develop an automatic landmark

recognition system for autonomous navigation of

planetary rovers. Navigation on other planets and

moons is complicated by variable quality terrain

maps and the lack of a Global Positioning System.

Supervised navigation using imagery from the

rover's cameras has been demonstrated with

Sojourner, but future NASA missions call for

completely autonomous navigation over many

kilometers. To support this goal, we will design an

image-based navigation system that provides

autonomy via automatic identification of landmarks.

We will compare the use of imagery from

conventional camera configurations with imagery

from very wide angle views (up to 360°) which can

capture many landmarks in one image, potentially

providing better localization precision and

reliability. Once a landmark has been recognized

and its position correlated with an internal map, that

landmark can be used as a reference point to fix

relative bearings; multiple bearings providing a

position fix. Many such fixes over time provide

optimal dynamic estimates of changing rover

position. Key innovations are the coding of

landmarks in highly compressed form, as feature

vectors, and the use of a state-of-the-art

hierarchical neural network feature classifier for

view-and-lighting invariant recognition of many

similar landmarks.

Potential Commercial Applications (Limit 200 words)

Future NASA missions will benefit from the

localization accuracy and reliability provided by our

landmark recognition method. Commercial

applications for robotic appliances using our

navigation system include automated food delivery

in hospitals, mail delivery and vacuuming

throughout office buildings.

Name and Address of Principal Investigator (Name,

Organization Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)

Magnus S. Snorrason

Charles River Analytics

55 Wheeler Street

Cambridge , MA 02138-1125

Name and Address of Offeror (Firm Name, Mail Address,


Greg L. Zacharias

Charles River Analytics

55 Wheeler Street

Cambridge , MA 02138-1125