Planetary Robotics

Helelani Rover

Meet Helelani (“heavenly travels”), our 700-pound planetary rover. She is equipped with a suite of instruments and imaging systems that can be controlled from anywhere in the world and serves as a mobile testing platform for planetary surface systems. Space agencies from anywhere in the world can arrange for tele-robotic operations of Helelani at a number of high-fidelity planetary analog test sites on Hawaiʻi Island.

Helelani also provides an ongoing project for undergraduate students seeking hands-on experience in robotics, engineering, and programming. Students in the robotics track of our internship program work to advance and refine her hardware and software systems. 


  • Manufacturer: Ontario Drive and Gear (ODG)
  • Model: Alpha Argo
  • Weight: 726 lbs (without avionics and additional equipment)
  • Power: 48V main system provided by two 24V battery systems
  • Additional Power Systems: 12V electronics, 12V payload

Control Capabilities

  • Hand-held radio controller
  • Remote operations using an internet connection


  • Voltage (for power systems)
  • Temperature (for motor surface and avionics enclosure)
  • GPS
  • IMU (accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, barometer)
  • Motor RPM

Imaging Systems

  • Pan-Tilt Situational Awareness Camera
  • Front view Haz Camera
  • Rear view Haz Camera
  • Stereoscopic Imaging System
  • LiDAR