Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Carnegie Mellon's Lunar X Prize team

Photo: Bill Cramer/Wonderful Machine

Astrobotic team members [from left] Nisarg Kothari,
James Lee, Ross Finman [in foreground], Ethan Minogue, and
Charlie Munoz gather for a test run of the Red Rover.

Prachi Patel (Part of IEEE Spectrum's Special Report: Why Mars? Why Now?) "The rover has gone blind. It had been running all night, its two mast-mounted cameras capturing high-resolution stereo images of its surroundings. Now it’s sitting idly in the middle of the room. Fixing the thing is not how Ross Finman had planned to start his day at the lab.

Finman, a 19-year-old undergraduate wearing wrinkled black trousers and an old brown leather jacket, uses a laptop to log on wirelessly to the rover’s computer. ”That’s weird,” he says, and tries to restart the cameras. Still no go. Definitely not a good day.

”Who touched it?” he says.

”I did,” a student nearby shouts back. ”That’s why it shouldn’t be broken.”

Finman summons Michael Furlong, a grad student and the camera wizard around here. Furlong pulls up a diagnostics screen on the laptop. Some log files had grown excessively large, eating up CPU cycles. He deletes the files and reboots the computer. Seconds later, the rover can see again.

”Mike is the man,” Finman says, grinning at Furlong, who doesn’t take his eyes off the screen.

It’s just another day at the Field Robotics Center, part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, in Pittsburgh."

Read the Article HERE.