Three students were a little sad when NASA’s Opportunity rover went silent after 15 years on the Martian surface. So they decided to build their own rover inspired by Opportunity to roam their backyards using an off-the-shelf robot chassis, a Raspberry Pi, and the usual list of parts like motors, H-bridges, and batteries.
Like the real rover, the vehicle uses a rocker-bogie system, although it is a little less complex than the version NASA sent blasting off towards the Red Planet. The plucky vehicle comes complete with miniature solar panels to recharge its onboard battery, courtesy of some dollar-store garden lights. A pair of videos after the break show how the rover is controlled, as well as the view sent back from its onboard camera.
The rover ran a simulated Mars mission as part of a school project where it had to find an object and transmit an image of it back to home base, and by the looks of it, is was a rousing success. But the young explorers aren’t resting on their laurels, and are already working on a second version of their exploration vehicle that can operate in inclement weather and includes some new tools such as a robotic arm and infrared illumination for low-light imaging.