The Rover is programmed with path planning and hazard avoidance software because of the several minute communication delay between Earth and Mars. The 'driver' of the Mars Rover cannot instantly see what it happening, and is unable to send commands quickly enough to prevent the Rover from running into a rock or falling off a cliff. The hazard avoidance software allows the Rover to assess the terrain before computing its next move, using 'way-point' navigation. View the video explaining Autonomous Rover Navigation.

The science and engineering team in Mission Control will select a 'destination', and the Rover's software will choose the best route to get there. The Rover is intelligent enough to manoeuvre through a martian landscape littered with rocks.

The Navigation Engineer will plot the destination (way-point) in conjunction with the Science team, before deploying (driving) the Rover.

Ensure sufficient power is available (Power Engineer), and Communications has selected the Low-gain antenna for constant radio contact.

Although the primary landing site has been mapped by satellites, visual information provided by the Rover's cameras will take precedence.