Walking robots could help explore other planets

(ORDO NEWS) — Today, NASA uses wheeled rovers to explore the Red Planet, but research involving scientists from Texas A&M University will test the feasibility of a new surface exploration technology – walking robots.

The goal of the study is to create and test walking robots that can move more easily over icy surfaces, sand and other difficult environments, expanding the ability of scientists to collect information.

Mars rovers and other robots sent into space usually perform pre-programmed actions by scientists. If the robot encounters unexpected findings or phenomena, its ability to adapt to them is limited. This could make it difficult for robots and rovers to navigate new environments.

The new project aims to test the next generation of highly mobile robots that can dexterously navigate planetary surfaces and perform assigned tasks.

“We’ll be doing this study at sites that represent specific soil types, from the White Sands dune field in New Mexico to the ice rock mix at Mount Hood, Oregon,” explained Ryan Ewing, professor of geology and geophysics at Texas A&M University.

“Our goal is to integrate highly mobile robots with embedded terrain recognition technologies and cognitive decision-making models to study the geotechnical properties of soils.”

The project uses robots with legs. With the help of their feet, they can “feel” the terrain (for example, the softness of the sand and the shape of the rocks).

This ability will allow robots to interact with their environment, adjusting their movements as needed. Also, the ability to “feel” the terrain with their feet will help these robots easily collect information about the environment while moving and adjust exploration strategies based on this information.

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