The K10 planetary rover is a mobile robot with four-wheel drive and all-wheel steering on a passive rocker suspension. This design allows operation on moderately rough outdoor terrain (up to 45 deg slope and 20 cm tall obstacles) at human walking speeds (up to 90 cm/s).
K10's drive system uses Maxon brushless motors with harmonic drive reduction (drive) and custom gearing (steer). Twenty Li-Ion batteries provide 1900 W-hr (1520 W-hr for motor power and 380 W-hr for avionics) of power. K10 weighs 80 kg and can carry an additional 15 kg payload, including science instruments and engineering tools. K10 has hard mounting points on the front, back, and bottom as well as a 100 cm high mast.
K10's avionics design emphasizes off-the-shelf components and modules. K10's controller runs on a Linux-based laptop (dual-core Intel processor) and communicates via 802.11g wireless. K10's standard sensor suite includes a Novatel differential GPS system, a Honeywell digital compass, Firewire stereo cameras, a wireless emergency stop, a suntracker, and wheel encoders.
The K10 controller is based on a service-oriented architecture. The interfaces are defined using the Interface Definition Language (IDL) and communication between components relies on CORBA middleware. Major service components include: locomotion, localization, navigation, and panorama acquisition. Many of these components are built using facilities provided by the NASA CLARAty (Coupled Layer Architecture for Robot Autonomy) framework.
K10's design features multiple levels of safety. The first level of safety is based on drive wheel velocity control. Because the drive motors capably climb slopes, K10 will reliably maintain zero velocity on slopes. Second, if an immediate stop is required, a low-level "servo stop" can be commanded to abruptly halt the robot. With this method, a K10 moving at full speed can be stopped in less than 5 cm (even on a 30 degree slope). Finally, when locomotion power is cut off, the drive motor leads are short-circuited. This fail-safe feature quickly stops the vehicle.