Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Creepy Crawlers May Unravel Web Of Planetary Mysteries

Date:
December 26, 2002
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., have created a micro robot reminiscent of the childhood character Charlotte from "Charlotte's Web." Dubbed "spider-bot" for its spider-like appearance, this itsy-bitsy, high-tech critter may one day chart the terrain on other planets and explore smaller bodies, such as comets, asteroids or the Moon.

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., have created a micro robot reminiscent of the childhood character Charlotte from "Charlotte's Web." Dubbed "spider-bot" for its spider-like appearance, this itsy-bitsy, high-tech critter may one day chart the terrain on other planets and explore smaller bodies, such as comets, asteroids or the Moon.

Spider-bots may also help with maintenance and repairs on the International Space Station. On Earth, they might fill in for humans by investigating hazardous materials or taking soil measurements on farms.

"Traditional rovers have very efficient wheels, but there are things we'd like to explore with legs that you can't do with wheels," said Robert Hogg, engineer in JPL's Mobility Systems Concept Development Section. "Our aim is to make a small, capable robot that can explore varying terrain in different environments; in other words, go anywhere any time."

Like a real spider, this robot has feeler-like antennas, which help it detect various obstacles. The first prototype is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Future versions could be one-tenth that size. Equipped with cameras that pan and survey its surroundings, the spider-bot has six legs and uses a tripod-walking gait to balance while in motion. In the future, depending on the kind of work they must perform, spider-bots may have eight, 12 or even 50 legs.

Hogg led the team of researchers developing the micro robot, which recently underwent its first demonstration. Small radio packages were dropped from a larger rover, and one radio was turned off. A spider-bot was successfully directed to navigate simulated Martian terrain to take the place of the "broken" radio.

Researchers envision multiple spider-bots weaving an entire communications network without the need of an existing infrastructure, such as a satellite. Each robot would continuously collect data from the environment and transmit the information short distances from one spider-bot to the next. The data could be shared by all of the spider-bots, allowing each one to know what is collected elsewhere.

Development of the spider-bot is true to NASA's vision to create evolvable hardware with many uses. "In the old days, if one instrument failed an entire mission might be at risk," said Dr. Neville Marzwell, manager, Advanced Concepts and Technology Innovations at JPL.

"The new approach is to have structures or robots that are reconfigurable, adjustable and flexible to stand on their own," Marzwell said. "Evolvable, reconfigurable structures are key to changing the paradigm for future space missions by increasing their functionality while reducing cost by becoming a multi-use robot or system."

The next big step in the development of the spider-bot is for researchers to attach tools to the robot's two front legs, enabling it to perform tasks like digging and repair. They also plan to build a more advanced prototype that will move faster, climb and make independent decisions to explore. "In the future, we might use a hundred or a thousand of them at once, so they can all work together to achieve one goal," Hogg said.

NASA's Advanced Project Office in the Office of Space Flight provided funding for this work. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.


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. "Creepy Crawlers May Unravel Web Of Planetary Mysteries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 December 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/12/021226071502.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2002, December 26). Creepy Crawlers May Unravel Web Of Planetary Mysteries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/12/021226071502.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Creepy Crawlers May Unravel Web Of Planetary Mysteries." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/12/021226071502.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) MIT developed a robot modeled after a cheetah. It can run up to speeds of 10 mph, though researchers estimate it will eventually reach 30 mph. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) Automobile manufacturer Local Motors created a drivable electric car using a 3-D printer. Printing the body only took 44 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 15, 2014) New York officials unveil subway tunnels that were refurbished after Superstorm Sandy. Nathan Frandino reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:
from the past week

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