Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Bulldozer Rovers Could Get The Scoop On Mars

Date:
October 30, 2001
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Tiny bulldozer rovers may some day dish up the dirt and pack it in on Mars. The scoop-and-dump design of a prototype bulldozer rover being developed by NASA engineers mimics that of a bulldozer and dump truck.

Tiny bulldozer rovers may some day dish up the dirt and pack it in on Mars. The scoop-and-dump design of a prototype bulldozer rover being developed by NASA engineers mimics that of a bulldozer and dump truck.

Unlike a life-size bulldozer and dump truck, which can weigh several thousand pounds, these rovers are lightweight, intelligent and can work without an operator at the wheel. Yet they have the same capabilities, relative to their size, as their heavy-duty counterparts.

Robotics engineers think the basic research on these bulldozing rovers may support future missions to look for life or to sustain a human presence.

"If water sources, such as hot springs, layers of ice or groundwater reservoirs are discovered on Mars, a network of these rovers could conduct scientific investigations and excavate the site piece-by-piece, just as humans would on an archeological dig," said Brian Wilcox, supervisor of the Robotic Vehicles Group at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Rovers like these may also play a role in establishing a space outpost for eventual human occupancy. They may be used to create buried habitats or utility trenches and to excavate resources to support life.

"We think a greater amount of terrain can be excavated if the workload is shared among several smaller vehicles. Smaller solar powered vehicles have a higher power-to-weight ratio than bigger vehicles, yet together can perform the same tasks as a large vehicle," said Wilcox.

Weighing approximately 3.6 kilograms (8 pounds), the bulldozer rovers have arms with a tiny scoop to dig up and dump the soil into an overhead bucket. They use their arms to right themselves if they fall over. Working in groups, they will create a virtual communications network with a central control tower, equipped with stereo cameras that will provide a 360-degree view of the terrain. A reflector will unfurl from the tower and divert the Sun's energy to the bulldozer rovers that are down a hole or ditch.

The bulldozer rovers share the same processor and software as the nanorover originally designed to fly on a Japanese asteroid mission. Four prototypes are working at this time. Engineers are working to determine the optimum size of the rovers for excavation tasks.

"When people hear about the work we do, they sometimes think we are just talking science fiction," said Wayne Schober, manager for advanced robotics surface systems at JPL. "We worked on some of the most advanced robotic vehicle designs of the mid-1980s, such as those that enabled the two-armed coordinated robots for the International Space Station, the Mars Pathfinder Rover and the rovers about to explore Mars. We are not all fun and games. We mean business."

These researchers are working on the next generation of air, surface and subsurface vehicles for exploration of the planets, including Mars, Venus, Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's largest moon Titan. The vehicles include a tumbleweed ball, which can blow with the wind; blimps; and all-terrain rovers, which can traverse down steep hills and gullies.

NASA's Cross Enterprise Technology Development Program provided funding for this work. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA. JPL is the lead American center for robotic exploration of the solar system.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA Bulldozer Rovers Could Get The Scoop On Mars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 October 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011030073455.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2001, October 30). NASA Bulldozer Rovers Could Get The Scoop On Mars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011030073455.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA Bulldozer Rovers Could Get The Scoop On Mars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011030073455.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Astronomers Spot Largest, Brightest Solar Flare Ever

Astronomers Spot Largest, Brightest Solar Flare Ever

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — The initial blast from the record-setting explosion would have appeared more than 10,000 times more powerful than any flare ever recorded. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — Apple fans in France discover the latest toy, the Apple Watch. The watch comes in two sizes and an array of interchangeable, fashionable wrist straps. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Water You Drink Might Be Older Than The Sun

The Water You Drink Might Be Older Than The Sun

Newsy (Sep. 27, 2014) — Researchers at the University of Michigan simulated the birth of planets and our sun to determine whether water in the solar system predates the sun. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Woman Cosmonaut in 17 Years Blasts Off for ISS

First Woman Cosmonaut in 17 Years Blasts Off for ISS

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts, including the first woman cosmonaut in 17 years, blasted off on schedule Friday. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins