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NASA trains Robodog for Lunar exploration


NASA is training a quadruped robot named “Spirit” to navigate the challenging lunar landscape as part of the Legged Autonomous Surface Science in Analog Environments (LASSIE) project. The multidisciplinary team, which includes engineers, planetary scientists, and cognitive scientists from various institutions, received a two-year $2 million grant from NASA to develop the robot.

The goal is to teach Spirit to adapt to its ever-changing environment in real-time, enabling it to traverse the lunar surface and potentially other celestial bodies. The robot must be able to detect ground conditions and adjust its locomotion tactics accordingly.

In the future, a team of these robots could be deployed on the Moon, sharing information about local hazards and guiding each other’s planetary explorations using a traversal risk map. They might even assist one another by rescuing a stuck robot or forming a bridge.

Spirit has already been tested in various environments, from California beaches to the snowy and rocky terrain of Oregon’s Mount Hood. The LASSIE team plans to further test the robot at White Sands National Park in New Mexico.

The research also explores the application of this technology to wheeled robots and those with six legs. This project brings us one step closer to advancing lunar exploration and understanding the challenges and possibilities of traversing the Moon’s surface.

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