Above, is a picture of LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robots), which is one of NASA’s new designs for robots to explore Mars. It handles the difficult rocky terrain with dexterity rather than force: it can climb up and down cliffs just like a rock climber. (The engineers who designed the little fella actually studied rock climbers to help design LEMUR’s movement). He’ll (I guess I call it a ‘he’…) have two ‘anchorbots’, which are like belayers to assist climbs up and down slopes to capture samples from areas which are inaccessible by the current rovers. Another cool design is this one:
It’s still too young of a concept for a cool acronym, but what it does is saves the time and energy which would be used to delicately navigate an obstacle and just jumps right over it! Hopper, as it’s tentatively known, can jump about 30 cms on Earth, which is more like 2 metres in the Moon’s weaker gravitational field.
The always fascinating Wired Science blog has a bit on these, as well as four other cool new space-bots. It’s worth a read!
Weird New NASA Rovers Really Get Around [Wired Science]