NASA is no stranger to the construction of robots, having created those who currently explore Mars, visiting the International Space Station and those who look like inflatable “aliens”.
But now, the space agency is working on robots that can do more than drive and explore, these robots can climb.
Known as the LEMUR (mechanical hand-held travel arm robot) and built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, this four-armed robot is able to climb rock walls using 16-inch hooks. fingers and artificial intelligence. In a blog post, JPL said that during his last field test, LEMUR was able to climb a cliff “while sweeping the rock in search of ancient sea fossils that once filled the area.”
No relation to the four-legged mammal that lives in Madagascar, LEMUR was designed to be originally a repair robot for the ISS. However, its use could be much more than that, helping to “lead to a new generation of robots walking, climbing and crawling,” adds the blog.
Among the robots inspired by LEMUR are the iceworm, which “moves by wrinkling and extending its joints like a thumb worm” and is able to climb ice walls by drilling them. He uses LEMUR’s AI and is being tested on Antarctic glaciers and ice caves on Mount St. Helens.
The two largest planets in the solar system, Saturn and Jupiter, have icy moons, including Europa, which has plate tectonics and could be a potential home for life.
Other robots include RoboSimian, which was originally built by DARPA for disaster relief and whose wheels consist of piano strings instead of feet; micro-climbers, who are “small enough to fit in a coat pocket but strong enough to climb walls and survive falls up to 9 feet”; and the underwater pliers, one of the striking hands developed by LEMUR.
The underwater clamp could potentially be sent to an asteroid, which is not much different from what NASA is doing with its OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft, which recently hit the asteroid Bennu.
There is also the helicopter that will join the rover March 2020 during the next mission on the red planet to chase the life of the aliens. The helicopter could also “cling to the Martian cliffs”, using LEMUR’s plans, in addition to flying around Mars.
“Meanwhile, the robot would recharge its batteries via solar panels, which would give him the freedom to move and search for traces of life,” adds the blog.