Mars rover Curiosity has always had the ability to pilot itself on the red planet. But NASA had decided to pilot the rover from Earth for the first year. However, last Tuesday, August 27, Curiosity switched to its autonomous navigation system and took its first drive into unapproved territory.
Switching to the autonomous navigation system has allowed the rover to cover more ground. Using the self-drive system has enabled Curiosity to travel an additional 10 meters a day. Now the rover is able to map out the safest driving path to its destination on its own by analyzing images taken during its drive. However, after switching to autonomous navigation, Curiosity drove onto such ground that wasn’t deemed to be safe before.
At present, Curiosity is making its way towards Mount Sharp where it will collect soil samples. It will continue to beam back information about the red planet, like it has done in the past. You can read more about the trip over at NASA’s site.