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Planetary Exploration Rover Avoids Sand Traps with 'Rear Rotator Pedaling'


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The Mini Rover takes on a sand dune.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration are developing robotic planetary explorers that can negotiate hills and soft granular surfaces without getting stuck in sand.

Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) researchers and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are co-developing next-generation planetary explorers that can negotiate hills and soft granular surfaces without getting stuck in sand traps.

One such explorer, the Mini Rover, uses "rear rotator pedaling" to climb slopes through a combination of paddling, walking, and wheel spinning, modeled on terradynamics.

Georgia Tech's Dan Goldman said, "By avalanching materials from the front wheels, it creates a localized fluid hill for the back wheels that is not as steep as the real slope. The rover is always self-generating and self-organizing a good hill for itself."

The researchers hope to scale up their findings on unusual gaits to larger robots, and to study robots in the context of their localized environments.

From Georgia Tech News Center
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