Optical EngineeringAutomated site characterization for robotic sample acquisition systems
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A mobile, semiautonomous vehicle with multiple sensors and on-board intelligence is proposed for performing preliminary scientific investigations on extraterrestrial bodies prior to human exploration. Two technologies, a hybrid optical-digital computer system based on optical correlator technology and an image and instrument data analysis system, provide complementary capabilities that might be part of an instrument package for an intelligent robotic vehicle. The hybrid digital-optical vision system could perform real-time image classification tasks using an optical correlator with programmable matched filters under control of a digital microcomputer. The data analysis system would analyze visible and multiband imagery to extract mineral composition and textural information for geologic characterization. Together these technologies would support the site characterization needs of a robotic vehicle for both navigational and scientific purposes.