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GESTALT (Grid-based Estimation of Surface Traversability Applied to Local Terrain)

GESTALT (Grid-based Estimation of Surface Traversability Applied to Local Terrain) is a technology that employs stereoscopic machine vision in collaboration with advanced software to help mobile robots navigate over irregular landscapes.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at California Institute of Technology has used GESTALT to assist the Mars Exploration Rovers, Opportunity and Spirit , in driving across the terrain of Mars.



Factors that affect the optimum path between any two points include:
  • Directness of route
  • Steepness of incline
  • Lateral slope
  • Rocks or other obstructions
  • Gullies, craters and ravines
  • Loose soil or dunes
  • Evidence of slippery surfaces.

The software, called Morphin, analyzes images of the terrain provided by cameras on the robot. Based on the current position of the robot and an intended destination point, an optimum path can be found that minimizes the risk of the robot turning on its side, rolling over, failing to negotiate an incline or sliding out of control.

Gestalt is a German word meaning, literally, shape or form . In English, the term is used to refer to a system of elements integrated in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This was last updated in March 2011

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