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Contents RoversHoppersAerobotsSubsurface robotsUnderwater robots
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| ||Mobility Systems|
Mobility Systems are robots aimed at transporting over variable distance payload.
In the context of planetary applications the following classes of Mobility Systems can be used:
- Subsurface robots
- Underwater robots
Robots moving on the surface of the planet: whether
relying on wheels, tracks,
legs or other exotic locomotion principles (e.g.shape-change,
slithering) these rely on firm contact to the surface to propel themselves. The
category can be further divided into:
- Micro rovers (< 5 kg in mass): these are
typically used to deploy scientific instruments in the immediate
surroundings (<10 m) of a lander. Examples of rovers realised by
the A&R Section are PROLERO, Nanokhod
- Mini rovers (< 100 kg in mass): these may still be
used as lander bound or as completely autonomous systems capable of
venturing out for few hundreds of meters. Examples of rovers developed
by the A&R Section are MIRO, SOLERO, EXOMADER, Aramies
- Large rovers (> 100 kg in mass): these provide
mobility in the range of several kilometres. The A&R Section
has developed LRM, and is supporting the EXOMARS rover development
The Frogbot hopper
These robots use the principle of hopping to move around. Hopping is
particularly attractive in the low gravity conditions such as those
experienced in small planets, moons, comets and asteroids. In these
conditions with little energy a small hopper can travel long traverses
and avoid obstacles many times larger than itself.
There are essentially two types of hoppers:
A well known mechanical hopper is the Soviet Fobos one, which
unfortunately failed to hop on the Martian moon Phobos. Another example
is the Minerva hopper which was supposed to hop on the
Itokoshi asteroid during the JAXA MUSES-C mission.
A less known mechanical hopper is the Philae lander at this moment on
board the Rosetta spacecraft en route to the Comet 67
- the rocket type, which uses chemical or gaseous jets to hop
- the mechanical type, which uses mechanical reaction forces
The A&R Section has not developed any hopper so far, it has
however contributed to the development of the CalTech/University of Verona
"Frogbot" in order to address the issues of hard landing and close
Test of Imaging and Localisation package for Aerobot
Are robots that move over the surface: in planets endowed with an
atmosphere, the static (buoyancy) or dynamic lift generated by the
atmosphere makes flying a convenient locomotion means. A further
subdivision of the class is made into:
What qualifies them as robots is the ability of autonomously navigate
the atmosphere relying on sophisticated navigation and aerobot
localisation means, the A&R section has developed such means in
the “Imaging and Localisation Package for Planetary
- Lighter than atmosphere (LTA): balloons, blimps, airships
- Heavier than atmosphere (HTA): gliders, airplanes,
Are robot that move under the surface of a planet. Subsoil investigation is a
needed feature of planetary exploration. While geochemistry studies the
composition and morphology of soil and exobiology searches for traces
of extinct or extant life, they both require analysis of soil samples
unaffected by surface weathering processes. This requires either the
analysis instruments are brought into the soil or that soil samples are
extracted from the subsurface. Subsurface robots provide these
abilities. This class of robots may be divided in two main categories:
- Robotised drills: only a sampling/instrumented
head is propelled into the soil. the head maintains a rigid mechanical
connection with the part of the drill remaining on the surface. The
A&R Section has developed a prototype of compact robotised
drill in he frame of the “Micro-robots for Scientific Applications II” activity.
- Robotic moles: the complete robot buries itself
into the soil maintaining at most a tether connection to the surface.
The A&R Section has developed a prototype of such
device in the “Guided Mole Development” activity.
Obviously from the name, these robots can move in water. On Earth there are quite some examples of operational and research robots who are able to do that for offshore engineering work, exploration and military uses.
In space the use of such robots has only be advocated for a mission to Europa. It has been speculated that the Jovian moon may have a vast liquid ocean beneath a crust of ice several kilometers thick.
Several parties have proposed a robotic system capable to penetrate the thick crust and to swim in the ocean.
The A&R section has not yet devoted any effort to such type of robots.
Last update: 30 November 2006
More in depth ...PROLERONanokhodMIROSOLEROEXOMADERLRM