New legged robots designed to explore planets as a team

Grow up / Robots that visit similar strange places.

Although the pilots make amazing discoveries, their wheels can get stuck, and the environment can be destroyed. There is no substitute for like Effortbut sometimes the pilots could use a leg up, and they could get that from a small group of four-legged robots.

They look like tiny metal insects, but three of the ANYmal robots developed by researchers at ETH Zurich were tested in environments as close to the harsh lunar and Martian environments as possible. Mobile robots can support future operators and reduce the risk of damage from sharp edges or loss of power in loose regolith. Not only do the legs of ANYmals help them overcome obstacles, but the bots work well as a team. Each is specialized for certain tasks but flexible enough to be compatible – if one is broken, the others can do their job.

“Our technology has the potential to enable robotic exploration of scientific discoveries on the Moon and Mars that are currently unreachable using wheeled vehicles,” the research team said. learning recently published in Science Robotics.

Three of a kind

The ETH Zurich team created each of its three independent units so that they can work independently and together. They were unique enough for certain tasks and similar enough to replace each other if one went down. Because he could not work alone, some involvement with human scientists and workers was necessary.

Each robot had a LiDAR (light and contrast detection) sensor. Beyond LiDAR and legs, however, each model had its own differences. The main purpose of the Scout model was to monitor the surrounding environment using RGB cameras. This robot also used a different image to map areas and objects of interest using filters that pass through different regions of the light spectrum. During the exhibition, Scout sent its images to a team of planetary scientists and staff who decided which areas would be the best to explore.

The Scientific version had the opportunity to have an arm equipped with MIRA (Metrohm Instant Raman Analyzer) and MICRO (microscopic image). MIRA was able to identify drugs in objects found on the surface of the display based on the way they scatter light, while the MICRO on his wrist photographed them up close. The Hybrid was somewhere in between, helping Scout and Scientist with measurements of scientific targets such as rocks and craters.

A team of future dreams

The key to this team’s success was layoffs. Although each robot had its own characteristics, all three shared some hardware and software. The possibility of failure influenced the design of robots. If one gets into trouble, unnecessary things can prompt one of the remaining two to help out while still using their unique abilities to complete their tasks.

The robots presented themselves in the same test environment as above Moon and two like above Mars, as part of the ESA/ESRIC Space Resources Challenge (SRC) in Alzette, Luxembourg. In particular, three bots explored the southern lunar analog, where the Artemis 3 astronaut will eventually land.

It can be dangerous for pilots to travel to certain areas, so robots may be needed to search dangerous areas. This is why the bots were challenged by everything from craters, rock formations, and loose regolith to solid lava beds known as mares.

In what was as close to the moon as you’ll get on Earth, the robots explored the things scientists love and sent the data back for (human) research. They encountered similar problems at another analog and storage facility that was a Martian facility and was used to test the ExoMars rover.

These researchers want to continue to improve these bottlenecks, such as autonomy, so that they can work and redistribute tasks independently. “The high degree of autonomy also makes the program easier to use for more complex applications, such as Mars exploration,” he said. learning.

Legged robots can join rovers and spacecraft, entering treacherous places that robots can’t reach and making exploration more efficient. Working together can make the proverbial dream come true in space.

Robotics Science, 2023. DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.ade9548 (About DOIs).

Elizabeth Rayne is a creature that writes. His work has appeared on SYFY WIRE,, Live Science, Grunge, Den of Geek, and Forbidden Futures. When he’s not writing, he can move, draw, or play like someone no one has ever heard of. Follow him on Twitter @quothravenrayne.

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