Wheels may be a more stable means to roam around the challenging terrain of Mars, but they limit where robots can go. In fact, to date, all of the robots scouring the surface of the Red Planet have been on wheels. Thus, scientists from Switzerland’s ETH Zurich and Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research have developed distinct robotic legs on their small quadrupedal robot, SpaceBok. This endearing robot, whose four legs mimic those of a medium-sized antelope known as a springbok, would provide access to the landscape scientists presently do not have. To get there, however, the scientists will need to perfect everything from its “static gait” to its various types of feet, as well as the algorithm that determines its pathfinding strategy. Read more about the technical developments and design process so far—and watch videos of the SpaceBok climbing up steep, rocky terrain in a controlled setting—at Wired.
Image courtesy of Elias Hampp/ETH Zurich