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What Would It Take to Put a Walking Robot on the Moon?


illustration of humanoid robot on moon

Robotic missions "re-ignite dreams and enthusiasm about space among the Japanese people," says Hideo Sugimoto, head of a group of companies that aims to land a walking robot on the moon around 2015.

Credit: Astro-Technology SOHLA

Astro-Technology SOHLA, a small cooperative of companies in Osaka, Japan, wants to put an autonomous humanoid robot on the moon. The group hopes its robot, called Maido-kun, could go to the moon with a robotic mission set to be launched by the Japanese space agency JAXA in about five years. JAXA had previously opted against sending a bipedal robot to the moon because its footing would be so uneven. But a walking robot would be more inspiring than a wheeled rover, says SOHLA president Hideo Sugimoto.

If the robot were to fall over, it could have trouble getting up again, says Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticist Rodney Brooks. He notes that human-sized robots have been designed to pick themselves up after falling, but the technology "has not been demonstrated robustly." However, Brooks says the moon's weak gravity could make it easier to accomplish.

Nevertheless, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology's Roger La-Brooy says designing a bi-pedal robot for the moon will be a major challenge. "Human beings are relatively unstable, and when designing robots for unpredictable terrain, three legs are better than two," he says.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2010 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


Comments


Anonymous

I like the three legged concept.

Perhaps this could be done as an X-Prize Robotic moon mission? My idea would be to design the robot into the body of the lunar lander, and the moon robot would have the ability to be free-programned to modify itself/lander as mission required ala Lego Toy Logic blocks Construction Set approach. This might also make it useful as a parts scraper for future moon missions and base parts. NASA/JAXA/EU joint fund a further Lunar-X Prize?

Uber Anglo Moonie---Freak On Spacers!


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