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Microrovers: Current and Past Examples and Conclusions Microrover Space Horizons Workshop Brown University Feb. 16, 2012 Bruce Betts, Ph.D. The Planetary.

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Presentation on theme: "Microrovers: Current and Past Examples and Conclusions Microrover Space Horizons Workshop Brown University Feb. 16, 2012 Bruce Betts, Ph.D. The Planetary."— Presentation transcript:

1 Microrovers: Current and Past Examples and Conclusions Microrover Space Horizons Workshop Brown University Feb. 16, 2012 Bruce Betts, Ph.D. The Planetary Society

2 What is a microrover? –No precise definition currently. –One example: 1 to roughly 10 kg; MUSES-CN to Sojourner Lots of examples in design and Earth use, only Sojourner in flight We’ll look at microrovers: –Coolness –Catalog –Examples –Uses –Conclusions Microrovers

3 Why are microrovers cool? Low cost, mass, volume imply: –Several can be piggybacked on missions –Increase capability, decrease risk for low cost –Power advantage: higher power to mass ratio for smaller rovers –Can use in riskier ways if desired, –Mitigate risk by flying multiple –Easy to deploy Microrovers lead to new paradigms

4 Background: Cornell/TPS Microrovers Project The Planetary Society –Bruce Betts –Louis Friedman –Doug Stetson –Interns Cornell University –Jim Bell (later ASU) –Mason Peck –Joseph Shoer –Yervant Terzian –S/C Engineering class Stellar Exploration –Tomas Svitek and associates Independent –Tom Jones TM at JPL –Brian Wilcox Much of what is presented here came out of a Cornell/Planetary Society project (NASA Steckler Grant) to study Microrovers for use with astronauts. Though focus with astronauts, many products/conclusions remain useful for robotic only

5 Microrover Catalog Created online microrover catalog What has been done for space and Earth on microrovers. Want to help new groups: –Not reinvent “the wheel” –Stimulate design thoughts One stop info on over 100 Terrestrial and Planetary Rovers (up to 100 kg for comparison) Tells us what we missed

6 Online Microrover Catalog

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8 Examples of current/recent microrovers Only “microrover” flown: Sojourner (11.5 kg) on Mars Pathfinder. MUSES-CN (1 kg) was also developed for flight by JPL

9 Example prototypes for space JPL Sample Return Rover Carleton U./CSA Kapvik (30 kg) Neptec/CSA Juno prototype ESA Nanokhod (1.5 kg)

10 Earth uses examples (note design variety) Inuktun VGTV (commercial inspection) 6 kg Hirose/Fukushima Titan IX (defense/commercial) prototype mine removal Recon robotics Recon scout 0.5 kg, defense iRobot SUGV 11 kg defense

11 How can we use microrovers? –Reconnaissance: scout possible traverses (e.g., for large rover, or for astronauts) even more efficient if use multiple several microrovers quickly explore area compared to one large rover –Science: wide range possible from imaging to contact science depending on payload. –High risk exploration, e.g., steep slopes, lava tubes

12 How can we use microrovers (2) Increasing Astronaut/Big Rover Safety –Enable focusing EVAs/Big rover traverses on optimized tasks –Facilities Inspection –Communications relays for astronauts working “over the next hill”

13 How can we use microrovers (3) Increase Public Excitement/Involvement –Will be “fun” and engaging for the public –Enable additional perspectives imaging spacecraft, facilities, and astronauts (family portrait) Increase Student Involvement –Like CubeSat analogy, standardized microrover conducive to university/student run projects –Can have limited student/public teleoperation

14 Design Studies We did some basic design studies One semester long Cornell engineering design class on this topic (~50 students) Provided input to follow-on professional study (Stellar/TPS/Cornell), which distilled and added to student studies, and developed general and specific conclusions

15 Sample 3-Student Team Projects

16 Some General Conclusions Microrovers kg offer unique benefits and risks, significantly different from larger rovers Paradigm shift: not a single rover that does it all, allows new concept of operations A group of microrovers may accomplish more, with fewer issues of reliability and lower cost than a single, large rover Low mass and easily stowed, microrovers adaptable to flexible, everyday use compared to larger

17 Specific Conclusions Power/insulation solutions exist to allow a microrover to survive the lunar night; Mechanically matching an astronaut's speed should not be a driving requirement for the rover's mobility subsystem. Instead: –Virtual proximity through network, and –Recon, science, inspection prior to or in place of astronaut EVA Microrovers can provide GPS-like position knowledge

18 Specific Conclusions (2) Microrovers could have same core design, but portions including payload could reconfigured, ideally in a plug-and- play fashion. Working collaboratively as a network allows tasks to be shared among many nodes, including communications relay. Teleoperation, autonomous, or both. Ideally, both – at least limited autonomy.

19 Web and (Microrover catalog and additional info/papers from TPS/Cornell study) Contact: Let me know what is missing from catalog.


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