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That’s one step for man and now also robots. The global leader in space exploration, NASA, and other space institutions are deploying more robots to help astronauts with their tasks and missions that are truly out of this world!
After the success of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover and the Mars 2022 Curiosity Rover space missions, it only seems likely to continue sending robots to space to discover more wonders about the cosmos. Let’s meet the seven new robots who will be exploring the great beyond.
Having been in development since 2011, LEMUR is a FreeClimber robot that is designed to crawl, walk, and scale cliffs. Using the tiny fishhooks embedded in each of its 16 fingers, LEMUR can climb the extreme terrains of Mars, the Moon, and other small bodies.
Similar to its animal analog, the LEMUR has legs that will allow it to move. This will allow LEMUR to explore Mars further than any astronaut can due to the rough terrain.
Fully developed and completed in 2015, the RoboSimian is an ape-like robot that is designed to traverse extreme terrains and perform dexterous tasks. Although it’s definitely a major upscaled version of a robot vacuum, the RoboSimian also makes use of a LiDAR device to help navigate and sketch out its environment in 3D.
While the RoboSimian was originally built for disaster relief use, it has since been modified by NASA to roam Enceladus, Saturn’s moon.
Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot or also known as RASSOR is a space mining robot. RASSOR is designed to dig regolith and resources such as water, ice, and even fuel on the terrains of the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. Aside from mining, RASSOR can also traverse steep slopes, climb rocks, and collect samples.
The PRO-ACT is a 3-robot working collaboration for an in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) plant. The first robot is named VELES, which is a 6-wheeled mobile manipulator. The second robot is called The Mantis, a 6-legged walking robotic system.
The third robot is The Mobile Gantry, which is a 4-wheeled gantry with a 3D printer that can help make building elements for human habitats and for lifting heavy loads. Together, the three robots will be assembling this plant as part of an ESA mission on the moon to help enable human settlement.
Sophia is perhaps the most popular humanoid robot to date. However, the title may soon go to Robonaut 2 — the first dexterous humanoid robot to ever go to outer space. NASA specifically designed Robonaut 2 to help astronauts with certain menial but important tasks such as cleaning handrails, picking objects, and flipping switches.
Built to work side-by-side with astronauts, Robonaut 2 will also help in performing certain tasks that may be too risky for humans to accomplish due to the environment.
Built for the specific mission to explore Saturn’s moon, Titan, Dragonfly is set for deployment in 2027. The dual-quadcopter has an eight-bladed drone-like craft that will help in its search and exploration of sources of life on the icy Titan moon.
Thanks to its design, Dragonfly can cover tens of miles farther than other planetary rovers to date. Thus, Dragonfly will be the first vehicle and robot to fly the entire place.
Valkyrie is the modified version of the Robonaut 2 humanoid robot. Giving justice to its name that was taken from Norse mythology, Valkyrie is expected to operate in the most hostile of space environments.
It also has a LiDAR sensor to help in its navigation so it can continuously scan the surroundings for any obstacles. NASA particularly plans on sending Valkyrie to the Moon and Mars as a step towards humans colonizing space.
Deploying robots to outer space is just one of the many incredible ways humans are positively using science and technology for societal advancement. Whether robots are working in restaurants, hospitals, or outer space, one thing is for sure —humans and robots coexisting is one giant leap for mankind that can get us excited about what the future will hold.