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Exploring the amazing Curiosity Analysts's notebook*, I came across the following in the "Sol 2931-2932 uplink report":

However, the Sol 2929 drive was halted early (well short of location "b") due to excessive visual odometry failures.

What does it mean for visual odometry to fail, and what causes this? Is it external factors like weather, or issues with the algorithm?

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  • $\begingroup$ I think it means "it didn't see where it was going" :-) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    May 17, 2021 at 23:14

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Wheel odometry is possible by counting wheel revolutions. Visual odometry is done by image processing.

A difference between both odometries may be caused by:

  • Unexpected slippage between wheels and ground when driving on sand or dust instead of solid ground.

  • Visual odometry failing when driving on a uniform unstructured surface

If visual odometry is close to zero while slippage is expected to be low an excessive visual odometry failure exists.

Slippage should be low if the slope of the ground is low and the rover is not blocked by boulders.

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