Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024
    Robotic System Paves the Way for Autonomous Construction on Other Planets

    NASA Ames Research Center and KBR have collaborated to develop a groundbreaking robot system capable of autonomously constructing structures using specially designed lattice blocks. As space agencies explore the possibility of sending humans to the moon and beyond, the question of shelter becomes paramount. The team’s innovative robotic system could pave the way for the autonomous construction of structures in remote destinations.

    The system consists of three robots, two of which transport lattice blocks, while the third connects them. The hollow lattice blocks feature edges similar to coat hanger wire and can be easily manipulated by the robots. The transport robots collect the blocks from a designated location and transport them to the construction site. Notably, these robots can also exchange blocks with each other.

    The third robot operates within the growing structure, skillfully connecting the blocks placed by the transport robots. The blocks are connected using twist connectors inspired by those commonly found in Ikea furniture. Working in tandem, the three robots collaborate like ants in a colony to construct predetermined structures envisioned by the researchers or, potentially, by future astronauts.

    The research team successfully tested the system by constructing multiple structures, including a shelter made up of 256 blocks—a remarkable achievement that took the autonomous system 4.2 continuous days. There is optimism that a similar system could be sent to extraterrestrial environments, such as the moon or beyond, to erect structures, towers, or other essential facilities before human arrival. While the current design requires astronauts to manually apply a covering to the outer blocks, automation could easily be implemented for this task as well.

    The implications of this robotic system are far-reaching. By embracing autonomous construction capabilities, space agencies can alleviate the burden on astronauts, reduce mission risks, and potentially embark on more ambitious projects in space exploration. The future of space construction may lie in the hands of these versatile and nimble robots.

    An FAQ section based on the main topics and information presented in the article:

    1. What is the purpose of the robot system developed by NASA Ames Research Center and KBR?
    The purpose of the robot system is to autonomously construct structures in remote destinations, potentially in extraterrestrial environments like the moon.

    2. How many robots are included in the system?
    The system consists of three robots.

    3. What tasks do the transport robots perform?
    The transport robots collect lattice blocks from a designated location and transport them to the construction site. They can also exchange blocks with each other.

    4. What is the function of the third robot?
    The third robot operates within the growing structure, connecting the blocks placed by the transport robots.

    5. How are the blocks connected together?
    The blocks are connected using twist connectors inspired by those commonly found in Ikea furniture.

    6. What was the achievement of the research team?
    The research team successfully tested the system by constructing a shelter made up of 256 blocks in 4.2 continuous days.

    7. Can the system be used in extraterrestrial environments?
    Yes, there is optimism that a similar system could be sent to extraterrestrial environments, such as the moon, to erect structures or other essential facilities before human arrival.

    8. What further automation could be implemented?
    While the current design requires manual application of a covering to the outer blocks, automation could easily be implemented for this task as well.

    Definitions:

    1. Lattice blocks: Specially designed blocks with hollow structures and edges similar to coat hanger wire, used in the robot system for constructing structures.

    2. Autonomous: Operating independently without external influence or control.

    3. Extraterrestrial: Relating to or originating from outside the Earth or its atmosphere.

    4. Twist connectors: Connectors inspired by those commonly found in Ikea furniture, used to connect the lattice blocks together.

    Suggested related links:

    1. NASA Official Website
    2. Exploration of the Moon and Mars
    3. KBR Official Website