Matthies has helped build the visual navigation systems for every rover that’s ever gone to Mars. Aside from Sojourner, NASA’s first rover on the Red Planet, all of its mobile explorers have used a combination of stereo vision and visual odometry to get around. But what makes Perseverance special is that it has dedicated hardware and a suite of fancy new algorithms for machine vision.
Perseverance’s new digital glasses will allow it to autonomously navigate its surroundings several times faster than its predecessors, which means the rover has more time to focus on its main scientific objectives. Still, it will take Perseverance a full day to drive the same distance a sloth can cover in an hour. But compared to NASA’s previous Mars rovers, Perseverance is a hot rod. “The longest drive that any Martian rover has ever done in a day is 219 meters,” says Twu. “We’re able to