The Personal Exploration Rover (PER) landed on earth back in 2004 when the NASA‘s Mars Exploration Rovers began to land and explore Mars. And I want one; shame it costs $8000! (Click on the images to get a better view).
According to the Personal Rover website, you can hone your skills as a space scientist by using PER to look for signs of life in each rover’s Mars Yard home. The rover’s camera is mounted on a specially designed head that can create a panoramic image and can also detect obstacles using an optical rangefinder. Once you have downloaded a panorama from PER, you can choose a rock for science testing, then estimate rover heading and distance to reach the rock.
Next, it is the rover’s turn. It will autonomously traverse the Mars Yard following your directions safely while continually checking for unexpected obstacles enroute. After reaching the goal location, PER scans the nearby area and autonomously locates then approaches the target rock. Finally, PER illuminates the rock with ultraviolet light to look for signs of organofluorescence, providing the mission scientist with science data.
The guys and gals at NASA, Ames Intelligent Systems and to Intel Corp. have open-sourced all the code and made it available to all who want to have a play.