Tag Archives: robotics/space-robots

Wiggly Wheels Could Help Keep Rovers from Dying on Mars

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/space-robots/wiggly-wheels-could-help-keep-rovers-from-dying-on-mars

Eleven years ago this week (or very nearly), the Spirit rover was noodling around in Gusev Crater on Mars when it drove over a thin hard crust of soil and broke through into a layer of soft sand underneath. The rover was already a little bit hobbled (understandable, since Spirit was something like 2,000 days into what was originally planned as a 90-day mission), and after months of trying, it became clear that Spirit wasn’t likely to move again. Unable to reach a position where its solar panels could be tilted toward the sun, Spirit froze to death during the Martian winter.

Larger rovers like Curiosity don’t have to worry about solar power, but getting stuck in soft surfaces is still a concern, since the options for getting a rover unstuck are limited—all you’ve really got to work with is the rover’s own mobility system.

In a paper published today in Science Robotics, researchers from Georgia Tech’s CRAB Lab led by Professor Daniel Goldman describe how they’ve worked with a NASA rover design to enable new mobility behaviors with actuated wheels that can avoid getting stuck. How do the wheels do that? By wiggling.

NASA Begins Testing Next Moon Rover

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/space-robots/nasa-begins-testing-next-moon-rover

NASA has decided that humans are going back to the Moon. That’s great! Before that actually happens, a whole bunch of other things have to happen, and excitingly, many of those things involve robots. As a sort of first-ish step, NASA is developing a new lunar rover called VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover). VIPER’s job is to noodle around the permanently shaded craters at the Moon’s south pole looking for water ice, which can (eventually) be harvested and turned into breathable air and rocket fuel.

Watch Astrobee’s First Autonomous Flight on the International Space Station

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/space-robots/watch-astrobees-first-autonomous-flight-on-the-international-space-station

NASA’s Astrobee robots have come a long, long way since we first met them at NASA Ames back in 2017. In fact, they’ve made it all the way to the International Space Station: Bumble, Honey, and Queen Bee are up there right now. While Honey and Queen Bee are still packed away in a case (and quite unhappy about it, I would imagine), Bumble has been buzzing around, getting used to its new home. To be ready to fly solo, all Bumble needed was some astronaut-assisted mapping of its environment, and last month, the little robotic cube finally embarked on its first fully autonomous ISS adventure.

NASA Hiring Engineers to Develop “Next Generation Humanoid Robot”

Post Syndicated from Evan Ackerman original https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/space-robots/nasa-hiring-engineers-to-develop-next-generation-humanoid-robot

It’s been nearly six years since NASA unveiled Valkyrie, a state-of-the-art full-size humanoid robot. After the DARPA Robotics Challenge, NASA has continued to work with Valkyrie at Johnson Space Center, and has also provided Valkyrie robots to several different universities. Although it’s not a new platform anymore (six years is a long time in robotics), Valkyrie is still very capable, with plenty of potential for robotics research. 

With that in mind, we were caught by surprise when over the last several months, Jacobs, a Dallas-based engineering company that appears to provide a wide variety of technical services to anyone who wants them, has posted several open jobs in need of roboticists in the Houston, Texas, area who are interested in working with NASA on “the next generation of humanoid robot.”