For my Master's thesis, I was involved with the problem of providing a Martian rover with sufficient intelligence to navigate across Martian terrain with as few instructions from Earth as possible.

In order for a vehicle on Mars to travel large distances on its surface by remote-operation, it would be necessary for the vehicle to independently determine paths on the surface that permit it safe passage between any two points. My project discussed the logic involved in this process, called pathfinding. Specifically, it implemented a method called the A* Algorithm which allows the vehicle to analyze the terrain between the origin and destination points, and to find a path to follow even before any movement by the vehicle has begun.

Implementing this technique has the potential of giving future Martian vehicles, and even Earth vehicles, sufficient intelligence to navigate on their own without human intervention.

Click here to read a copy of my thesis.
Click here to go to the Athena Mars Rover at Cornell Web Site.