the ‘mars rover‘ is a telepresence robot made by robo-hobbiest kerwin lumpkins. he created it as a mock up of the real mars rover, but on a more down-to-earth scale.
controlling the tank is a general purpose robotics development board, also designed by kerwin. the darc board takes input from infrared and sonar sensors, controls locomotion and camera aim, and has basic ability to make decisions based on a combination of its immediate environment and operator commands which are sent to the robot over a rf modem connection.
here’s what makes this cool. if the robot detects that a given command would place in in jeopardy (such as running into a kitchen cabinet) it will abort and send back a warning to the control station.
to better simulate a real mars rover system, kerwin uses some tivo-like time shift software to delay the incoming video signal 5 seconds. this makes controling the rover more difficult and is why onboard decision making is a must for your own martian explorer project.