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Autonomous navigation and robust obstacle avoidance are prerequisites for the successful operation of a planetary rover. Typical approaches to tackling this problem rely on complex and computationally expensive navigation strategies based upon the creation of 3D maps of the environment. In contrast, this research proposes a simple artificial neural network relying on infrared sensory input as the control structure. This paper presents a unified framework for designing such control structures for a simulated rover, taking advantage of code parallelisation and the latest advances in global optimisation research. In particular, it details a 3D physics-based simulation of a planetary rover and a tool set for performing the optimisation of ANN parameters within the island model. This paper also presents preliminary results showing that the aforementioned framework can parallelise the controller design process without any loss in performance over traditional methods, and will outline research directions, which aim to take full advantage of this technique's potential.