Successful Russian Moon Rovers 35 Years Ago!
On July 13, 1969 Russia launched a Moon Lander which safely landed on the moon whereupon it deployed ramps and relased the Lunokhod 1 moon rover. The Lunokhod 1 looked like an eight-wheeled washtub but it worked beautifully. It has solar panels, many television cameras, an x-ray spectrometer, and many other sophisticated instruments.
After operating for 11 months the Lunokhod traveled 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers), transmitted more than 20,000 television pictures, and conducted more than 500 lunar soil tests. Two years later, a larger and faster Lunokhod 2 rover successfully landed set a still-unbroken record for extraterrestrial driving distance of 23 miles.
Both the Lunokhod 1 and Lunokhood 2 were controlled via a joystick on earth. It's not possible to do this with the NASA Mars Rovers as radio delays can be 5 to 40 minutes depending on the distance between the Earth and Mars. For this reason it took until recently for computer technology to allow the current generation of rovers to have enough on-board intelligence to move about on their own with only "input" from Earth.
Here is an excellent article on this fascinating subject.