MIT researchers succeeded in building a modular lunar rover with worm-like arms

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have just managed to design a lunar rover inspired by the animal world, which won the best paper award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) at the Air and Space Conference. moon walker New MIT It is equipped with worm-like robotic arms and can evoke images and movements similar to various creatures, including spiders, elephants, and goats.

New moon walker MIT What are its features?

The discussed lunar rover, in short WORMS (Pedestrian Oligomeric Robotic Mobile System) was developed with the aim of evolving into a prototype that could be used in future human colonies on the surface of the moon. Instead of designing different robots to do different things, the team that created it has planned to create a versatile product and solve the problem of accumulation of automatic systems. Astronauts can replace the robotic arms, each of which is intended for a specific task.

Among the arms developed for MIT’s new lunar rover is a spider-leg-inspired model that enables movement in rough environments. It has been said that this arm can be used to drill a pit to access frozen water reserves under the surface of the moon. Another arm is inspired by an elephant, which can be used to carry heavy parts. By changing the robotic arms, it is possible to transform the lunar rover into an image similar to a goat or a cow, which will be able to carry solar panels on its back.

MIT lunar rover

The modular capabilities of the MIT rover are made possible thanks to the use of worm-like appendages that allow the arms to be easily attached to the main chassis via a twisting mechanism. A small tool is also considered for separating various parts by astronauts; So that in order to occupy less space, the main components can be completely separated and the robot can be easily stored until future use. The current prototype uses six arms and is about the size of a go-kart. Also, the special software developed for it is responsible for synchronizing the arms.

This research team first proposed their idea in NASA’s BIG Challenge for 2022. In this challenge, NASA asked students to design a robot that can move without wheels in difficult conditions. The aforementioned team from MIT focused on a rover that could easily navigate the moon’s south pole; A place where the possibility of frozen water reserves is given below its surface. Thick dust, rocky slopes and corridors are among the characteristics of this area of ​​the moon, which make it difficult for wheeled vehicles to travel.

MIT lunar rover
3D image of the surface of the South Pole of the Moon

Although the lunar rover of MIT researchers weighs about 9 kg on the surface of the earth; But on the surface of the moon, due to less gravity, it will be only equivalent to 1.5 kg on the earth. This issue has made it possible to open and close it easily by astronauts. Based on this, the mentioned research team intends to develop the second generation of its product with longer and heavier arms. They believe that such a design, along with high stability and flexibility, will be quite affordable.

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