Safe landing on a planet or on a moon for any space probe is a difficult task. A tiniest mistake during landing of a space probe on a hostile surface of a planet or moon can turn into a disaster. However, keeping this in mind, NASA is making a superb robot called the Super Ball Bot that would be able to land on a planet or moon safely even though it lands in a similar way to dropping a ball.
The structure of Super Ball Bot is spherical. It is being built by Vytas SunSpiral and Adrian Agogino at NASA Ames Research Center. The Super Ball Bot will be able to land on planet or moon without any help. It will rely on ‘tensegrity,’ meaning it will composed entirely of interlocking rods and cables. The bot won’t be damaged even if it lands like a bouncing ball. However while landing, the bot will absorb the shock of impact. In other word, the force of an impact will be diffused over multiple areas on the robot.
After landing on the surface of a planet or moon, Super Ball Bot will be able to roll around without wheels. It will go forward by shortening and lengthening the cables that connect its rigid components.
Mr Agogino said that they’d have to invent new ways to handle controls so that the robot may move smoothly and efficiently. He said, “This is so new that if you can do anything more than a twitching dead thing you’re really ahead of the curve.”
Naturally, this unusual structured robot will be hard to control, so researchers are now experimenting with its controlling using ‘Central Pattern Generators’ (a machine learning algorithms and neuroscience inspired control).
NASA scientists are now speculating that the spherical structural design of this bot could be used for a potential mission to Saturn’s moon Titan. The space agency believes a Super Ball Bot could fall from more than 62 miles above Titan without being damaged. Here’s a video of the Super Ball Bot.
Source: Daily Mail