While NASA's Insight lander is wowing the world with the images and data it is sending back, the European Space Agency (ESA) is currently testing its ‘SpaceBok’, a walking and hopping robot that it hopes will be jumping over the surface of the red planet in the not too distant future.
The quadruped robot was designed by a Swiss student team for missions to Mars and/or the Moon and is being put through its paces at ESA's Mars Yard (a 26-feet-square (8-meter-square) “sandbox,” filled with different sizes of sand, gravel and rock ) in the Netherlands. The yard is part of the agency’s Planetary Robotics Laboratory.
Advantages of Legged Robots
According to team members, there are several advantages of using this type of robotic concept on future missions.
“Legged robots can traverse unstructured terrain and could be used to explore areas of interest, such as craters, which rovers are unable to reach,” explained team member Patrick Barton. “As they are very versatile, they can change gait to adapt to different terrain.”
“In contrast to other legged robots, SpaceBok is primarily built for hopping,” added team member Elias Hampp.
“While this is not particularly useful on Earth, it could reach a height of four meters on the Moon. This would allow for a fast and efficient way of moving forward.”
To keep up with the latest news about the testing and development of SpaceBok check out its page on Facebook.
You can also watch SpaceBok in action in the video below.