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NEW ROBOT FOR SPACE MISSION NAMED SPACEBOK HAS UNIQUE FEATURES

Bouncing robot for low-gravity space missions has a spring in its step

SpaceBok robot
SpaceBok robot

The SpaceBok robot. This moving and springing robot is presently being tried in ESA’s Mars Yard. ESA

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If you’ve always observed spacemen on the moon hopping high in the air and believed that looked like a great way to get everywhere, you’re not the only one. The European Space Agency has made SpaceBok, a rebounding robot intended for low-gravity “dynamic walking” enthused by the walk of the springbok.

“As an alternative of static walking, where at least three legs stay on the ground at all times, dynamic mobile permits for postures with full flying stages during which all legs stay off the ground,” Ph.D. student Hendrik Kolvenbach from ETH Zurich’s Robotic Systems Lab clarified in a report. “Animals make use of dynamic walks due to their efficiency, but till lately, the computational supremacy and procedures mandatory for control made it perplexing to understand them on robots.”

This kind of movement is perfect for thrusting the bot around non-Earth surroundings with low gravity. “For the lower gravity environments of the Moon, Mars, or asteroids, jumping off the ground similar to this goes out to be a precise effective way to move everywhere,” Kolvenbach said. On the moon, for instance, SpaceBok could possibly jump as high as two meters with the feet in the air.

SpaceBok robot
SpaceBok robot

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But there’s a trial with rebounding so high — the robot has to land again safely. To accomplish steadiness in the air, the crew applies a system known as a reaction wheel, which is like to what satellites apply to regulate their positioning. The reaction wheel can go faster or slow down to generate the opposite reaction in the SpaceBok, pushing it into the accurate location.

An additional clever piece of the bot is its bouncy legs. Inside each leg is a spring which supplies vigor when the bot lands and releases it again at takeoff. This makes the bot more energy effective in its jump.

Experimenting a robot for low gravity circumstances isn’t stress-free here on Earth. To simulate the low gravity of the moon, the team used the ultra-smooth floor, called Orbital Robotics Bench for Integrated Technology ORBIT, at ESA’s Orbital Robotics and Guidance Navigation and Control Laboratory in the Netherlands. When the bot was sited onto a free-floating platform, it could mimic the actions of low-gravity situations by bouncing and sliding along the floor.

SpaceBok robot during training for jumping and walking movement
SpaceBok robot during training for jumping and walking movement

The subsequent stage of experimenting is to get SpaceBok out of the lab and into the real world, checking jumps over obstacles and walks through mountainous land.

 

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