Mars exploration rover performance as a baseline for flight Rover autonomy technology assessment
Howard, Ayanna M.
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Technology assessments rely on performance metrics to establish a basis for rating technologies. Metrics are also used to measure relative merit of similar technologies to state-of-the-art technology. Functional performance metrics are presented for mobility and robotic arm autonomy exercised on the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) surface mission thus far. The metrics are used to apply an existing technology assessment method to establish a baseline for assessing future flight rover technologies. The methodology decomposes robotic activities into operational functions and addresses how technologies, based on performance metrics, can be systematically related to increases in science return. Considering the basic mission objective to maximize scientific yield, we can assess how relative performance of future technologies might impact science return. We provide a useful set of metrics and present an example application of the method to assess merit of hypothetical future Mars rover performance relative to the MER baseline.