Highland terrain hopper – cutting-edge planetary locomotion system
The main technical objective of the study is to develop a cutting-edge hopping robot designed to explore the complex terrains and highland areas of extra-terrestrial bodies. The difficulty of exploring their uneven terrains requires new types of robots possessing special features, with particular emphasis on the motion performance. Among the many forms of locomotion, hopping on the surface of a celestial body is the potentially most effective way of traversing even vertical obstacles much higher than the robot itself. ASTRONIKA proposes the development of a hopping robot, a light (up to 2 kg) and robust jumping locomotion system designed to be dropped anywhere on the surface of celestial bodies with gravity lower than that of Earth’s. The expected height of jumps is 1,5 m in Earth gravity (4 m in Martian gravity).
Solutions of similar systems designed for space exploration are currently very rare and not fully reliable, both in Europe and worldwide. The proposed robot fits the niche of terrain mobility systems intended for the exploration of such undulating terrains.
The project’s industrial added value from the viewpoint of new technologies:
- Special actuating legs as the robot’s separate component innovative in terms of: energy storage, high reliability thanks to complete dust resistance, bidirectional actuation, dumping features while landing and very accurate triggering. It has a high potential to become patented and considered a special-purpose actuator.
- The dust-resistant actuating leg can be used for other purposes where dust protection is a crucial factor, e.g., for almost every exploration mission to other celestial bodies and also for Earth application (e.g., emergency and disaster management, military purposes), where mechanisms must operate in harsh environmental conditions.
- Research on scientific payload miniaturization.
- Small mass and volume makes it possible to take a group of the discussed robots on board of a lander and guarantee a successful mission.
GALAGO is intended to be a Polish product that can be implemented in any exploration mission to celestial bodies with gravity lower than that of Earth’s.