With the Mars rovers “Spirit” and “Opportunity” in the headlines, the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute wanted to increase the public’s awareness of robotics and share how NASA scientists use robots as exploration tools.
Using a mission control interface, museum visitors would design a mission to send rovers on a semi-autonomous mission to search for signs of life in “Mars Yards” specially designed to mimic Martian terrain. Starting with images sent from the rover in its current location, users would independently select direction and distance for the mission. When the rover arrived at a rock, a UV light would highlight signs of life.
Here is a research report on the educational results of the Personal Exploration Rover museum exhibit.