The ESA wants its operations on other planets to have greater mobility and manoeuvrability. SINTEF researchers are looking into whether snake robots could be the answer.
So far, NASA has landed four rovers on Mars. These are solar-powered robots with six wheels and robotic arms that can take soil samples and operate cameras. Sojourner landed in 1997, Spirit and Opportunity in 2003, while the more advanced Curiosity was landed last summer.
“Manoeuvrability is a challenge. The Spirit rover was lost after it became stuck in the sand on Mars. The vehicles just cannot get to many of the places from which samples have to be taken”, say Pål Liljebäck and Aksel Transeth at SINTEF ICT.
The researchers are busy working on a feasibility study assigned to them by the ESA. The ESA and the researchers believe that by combining a rover that can navigate over large distances with a snake robot that can crawl along the ground and can get into inaccessible places, so many more possibilities could be opened up.
At the moment, soil samples from Mars are analysed on board the rover itself, and the results are communicated back to Earth. However, The ESA also wants to examine options that could allow samples to be returned to Earth. Snake robots could assist with collecting such samples, since they enable access to tight spots that the rovers cannot reach.
An arm becomes a snake robot
“We are looking at several alternatives to enable a rover and a robot to work together. Since the rover has a powerful energy source, it can provide the snake robot with power through a cable extending between the rover and the robot. If the robot had to use its own batteries, it would run out of power and we would lose it”, explains Aksel Transeth.
“One option is to make the robot into one of the vehicle’s arms, with the ability to disconnect and reconnect itself, so that it can be lowered to the ground, where it can crawl about independently”.
The researchers envisage using the rover to navigate over large distances, after which the snake robot can detach itself and crawl into tight, inaccessible areas. A cable will connect the robot to the vehicle. The cable will supply power and tractive power, i.e. it can be winched back to the rover. Communication between the pair will be facilitated via signals transmitted down the cable.
“The connection between the robot and the rover also means that the snake robot will be able to assist the vehicle if the latter gets stuck”, says Liljebäck. “In such a situation, the robot could lower itself to the ground and coil itself around a rock enabling the rover pull itself loose by means of the cable winch, which the rover would normally use to pull the snake robot towards the rover”.
Snake robot hoisted up
Another scenario illustrating how the vehicle and the snake robot can work together is for the robot to be located underneath or on top of the rover. That would require a hoisting mechanism to pick up the robot, lift it up and connect it to the rover.
The researchers report that they are now carrying out a concept study. Being on Mars is a different matter to being on Earth, and they must check whether the technology for a snake robot can also work on that planet. A more specific proposal will be submitted in December, but part of the study is to identify challenges and any potential snags.
The Latest on: Snake robot
- Chinese hospitals start to use AI-powered robots to treat coronavirus patientson January 30, 2020 at 10:29 am
The robots are able to open doors, take lifts and avoid obstructions ... They said: 'Results derived from our evolutionary analysis suggest for the first time that snake is the most probable wildlife ...
- A Deadly Robot and Snake-Filled Toilet Bring Risk Back to Sports Bettingon January 27, 2020 at 8:37 am
BBH New York also created six 15-second spots, which were cut down to 6 seconds as well. Some of the situations make for the campaign’s funniest moments: The robot vacuum drill is a creative way to ...
- Boston Dynamics' Spot Could Pave The Way For Ridable Robotic Horseon January 24, 2020 at 10:49 am
The invention of the wheel some 4,000 years ago dramatically increased the rate at which human society evolved. It was so good that we’ve become so heavily on it that without the notion of the wheel ...
- Sidewinder snake helps robots climb sandy inclineson January 13, 2020 at 4:00 pm
The robot designed by Carnegie Mellon researchers had the necessary hardware to imitate a snake, but it lacked the finesse of the reptile. By studying the real life animals, scientists were able ...
- Snake-arm robot slithers past obstacleson January 6, 2020 at 4:00 pm
With that in mind, Ocrobotics, in the U.K. (www.ocrobotics.com), developed snake-arm robots. They are constructed out of several flexible and hollow segments joined together into an arm and ...
- CES 2020: Nvidia GPUs powering robots from Toyota, PostMateson January 6, 2020 at 10:56 am
a delivery robot from PostMates and an inspection snake robot from Sarcos. "We span multiple vertical markets that we target," Csongor said. "One of the things that all of these autonomous ...
- Nvidia launches simulation platform for robotson January 6, 2020 at 8:33 am
Other Nvidia-powered systems at CES include a delivery robot from PostMates and an inspection snake robot from Sarcos. The Isaac SDK lets robot developers create simulations. Isaac is an open ...
- This Robot Snake Could Save Your Life, If It Doesn’t Scare You To Deathon December 31, 2019 at 12:15 pm
The abomination creation was presented at the 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, held early this month in Madrid. “We [devised] a novel gait for the snake ...
- SickSack: ATMega Servo Snake Roboton December 27, 2019 at 4:00 pm
[Lars] sent in this sweet snake robot that he and [Aske] built for the DTU Robocup. I’ve seen snake bots before, but I like the concept and the clean electronic design. They used a single ...
- Subsea "Snake Robot" Inventor Wins Prestigious Cybernetics Prizeon December 19, 2019 at 4:00 pm
It is one of the most prestigious technology prizes in the world. Scientists have been working on snake robots for more than 30 years, but Kristin Y. Pettersen and her team have gained attention ...
via Google News and Bing News