Scientists from ETH Zurich in Switzerland have tested a coordinated fleet of robots for potential lunar exploration. The team equipped three legged robots, called ANYmal, with a variety of measuring and analysis instruments to make them suitable for exploring unknown terrains. The robots were tested on different terrains in Switzerland and at the European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC) in Luxembourg. The goal of the testing was to scout the lunar surface and identify minerals and resources.
The researchers emphasized the advantages of using multiple robots in a team for exploration. One advantage is that each individual robot can perform specialized tasks simultaneously. Another advantage is that a team of robots provides redundancy, meaning that if one robot fails, the others can compensate and continue the mission. To achieve this, the researchers equipped two of the robots as specialists, with one focused on mapping terrain and classifying geology, and the other specialized in identifying rocks using spectroscopy tools. The third robot had a broader range of tasks and could perform both mapping and rock identification, ensuring that the mission could still be completed even if one robot malfunctioned.
The researchers plan to further develop this technology with a one-year research contract awarded to them by the FZI Research Center for Information Technology in Karlsruhe. They will also explore the inclusion of robots with wheels and flying robots in future missions. The goal is to combine different types of robots that can maneuver in various types of terrain. Additionally, the researchers aim to increase the autonomy of the robots, allowing them to assign tasks to each other.
– European Space Agency (ESA)
– Science RoboticsDOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.ade9548