Mars does not have a magnetic field nor are there constellation of satellites orbiting Mars to provide accurate location data. So how will Astronauts / Rovers on Mars navigate their way?
On 22 June 2016, HotPopRobot gave a presentation at the Ontario Science Centre, Toronto during the RASC (Royal Astronomical Society of Canada) meeting of the path–finding Rover they built for planetary exploration. The Rover takes a snapshot of its surrounding using a web camera and processes this image using edge detection and gradient mapping tools of Matlab software to convert it into a visual maze.
The Rover then applies the maze-solving algorithm to find the best path forward. The coordinates of this path are sent to the driving mechanism of the Rover using Arduino and the Rover is able to drive forward avoiding obstacles. It took us over 2 months to build and program the Rover.
The project involved developing different modules, namely building the Rover (physical construction), Visual data gathering (using web camera), Data Processing (for synthesising image and rasterising it into a maze), Maze Solving algorithm (to find the best path among the maze), and Communication (to command the Rover to move as per the solution provided by the Algorithm).
This technology has lots of applications on Earth too for autonomous guidance and for making decisions in a changing visual environment.