Crew 176 Engineer
In recent days we had 2 EVAs with Ares rover. We performed some field tests to check procedures and collaboration with rover and to examine Ares behavior in various conditions.
Two days ago we had objectives regarding human-robot interactions. Ares was helping geologist with collecting the samples. It took some pieces of rock and delivered it to destination.
Yesterday we performed further field tests. We headed north, to the area between Hab and North Ridge. Ares climbed on several quite steep hills, some pf them up to 35 degrees. It was a great opportunity to observe how the suspension works when forces on each wheel are not equal (and asymmetrical). Besides, we checked the performance of motors and grip of wheels on loose soil as well as we drove in the dust and mud to verify the impact of water or dirt on mechanical parts.
One of unexpected events was when Ares dug itself in sand. Unfortunately, it blew two electric fuses while it was trying to escape.
We also performed tests on maximum range of wireless communication (without additional antenna). Results were quite surprising – in open field (without any obstacles around) we nearly lost visual contact with rover but the connection was still quite good.
That EVA was also an opportunity to train an additional rover operator. It took less than minute to explain how to drive a rover.
A completely new experience, impossible to gain on robotic competitions like University Rover Challenge was operating the rover in helmet and space suit. We found out, that using a joystick in gloves is as comfortable as without them. On the contrary, sun reflections on the helmet makes nearly impossible to see anything on computer screen.