Curiosity Goes Autonomous For the First Time

NASA took the metaphorical training wheels off the Mars rover Curiosity on Tuesday, as the unmanned explorer took its first drive using autonomous navigation. It used its onboard cameras and software to select and drive over an area of ground that mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California couldn’t see and vet beforehand.

This capability allows the nuclear-powered rover to negotiate the most direct route to Mount Sharp rather than having to detour to find routes that can be seen directly by Curiosity before entering, so they can be analyzed by mission control.

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