There are more pictures in this entry than words, almost. For those that already know space is awesome, it just got cooler. And for those who are late to the party, check this out!
Every space agency from NASA to JAXA has been working intensely with robotics as virtual exploration is the preferred method when one things of certain worlds. Whether instead of manned missions or to assist, robots are here for our future.
The ESA has an intense interest in robots for its planned 2018 mission (ExoMars) but also has recognized some other situations robots may be used for and designed accordingly.
Here are some of the Transformers in a lunar environment.
This particular rover has the ability scan the terrain in front of it using a laser scanner and if it finds that there’s a slope of rough terrain, its wheels are up for the job. A quick transformation, and it scampers up the hill.
A link-up gives the control room on earth a virtual display. In this case the display shows the rover identifying & mapping a rock for sample collection.
HERE is the AWESOME – The wheels that become legs, well, they also become arms. There has been tons of talk regarding colonization, but not much action. The ESA offers a solution in the robotic transformation to smart-forklift designed to take cargo and other modules to the moonbase. Buty not just handling basic transport but docking the modules together, hooking up the various power lines or air lines, water pipes, whatever is needed.
But perhaps what’s needed for a habitat is lunar soil – REMEMBER, NASA wants a 3-d printer on the moon that uses lunar dust as the construction material. The added benefit is that at 11-17 inches you’re protected from radiation! Or perhaps modules that will be buried in the soil. Eitehr way that’s a lot of dirt to move around un;
unless you have a bulldozer – or a robot!
That’s the ESAs take on tomorrow, today. But there are far from the only ones! Germany has some cool ideas too!
Germany’s take on exploration of lunar craters. The RIMRES (Reconfigurable Integrated Multi Robot Exploration System) project takes a 6 legged robot that operate solo and then be picked up by its host/transporter so that it may move faster from place to place.
The Transporter (The Sherpa Rover) pictured above moves about using a hybrid of a wheeled AND legged system, depending. This keeps the terrain from being a problem. Each of its four legs can be lifted independently. It’s objective, to act as taxi to the other robots which are called CREX (Crater Explorer). They act as scouts and then are carried under the Sherpa’s belly when done.
The Crex are hexapods that can handle the exploration part of the craters especially with their legs with four joints and sensors,. But while they can take on the tough stuff, they need the Sherpa for getting from place to place.
Germany hasn’t any plans to let Sherpa & Crex loose in any lunar setting at this time, but it never hurts to be ready for the future…Didn’t I tell you it was cool?!