Six-Legged Robot Lunar Bases Change Everything

The ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) could form the basis for new lunar bases. NASA engineers are testing two prototypes in Pasadena, CA.

The 15 ton lunar habitat would be mounted on top of the six-legged robot. The habitat could walk right off of the lunar lander, and then proceed to any desired location. Wheeled locomotion would be used for level ground; more challenging terrain could be negotiated with the full use of the flexible legs.


(ATHLETE carries lunar habitat)

The six-legged robot habitat could then be controlled directly by astronauts; mission control could also direct the habitat from Earth. My favorite alternative, an autonomous robot habitat, is also slated for testing. It would use software developed for the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

The robot habitat would move around using power drawn from solar arrays; the maximum speed is about 10 km/hour. Although this seems slow, remember that the Moon's circumference is just 11,000 kilometers (compared to Earth's circumference of 40,000 km). Astronauts would live a nomadic existence, covering much more of the lunar surface.

Abandoning the idea of a fixed lunar base would be a huge shift for NASA (and maybe the rest of us). Instead, astronauts would lead a nomadic existence; this would let them cover vastly more ground in exploration.

Even better, the robot habitat could even help out; take a look at this video of the ATHLETE robot attaching tools to its flexible legs Transformer-style.

The ATHLETE-based lunar habitat reminds me of two science-fictional devices. Jack Vance wrote about a walking fort in his 1964 novel The Killing Machine:

He wanted Patch to design and construct a walking fort in the semblance of a monster centipede, seventy-six feet long and twelve feet high. The mechanism was to consist of eighteen segments, each equiped with a pair of legs...
(Read more about the walking fort)

Perhaps it might resemble this crab fort drawn by Daniel Dociu:


(Daniel Dociu's crab fort)

In terms of movement, it reminded me of the slow-but-steady steel tortoise, from Robert Heinlein's 1940 novella Coventry; this vehicle was also solar powered, and crawled along at a top speed of just six miles per hour.

This is a big change from the static location moon base; this idea has been a staple of science-fictional Moon exploration since the moon domes of Ray Cummings 1931 novel Brigands of the Moon.

Via NewScientist.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/5/2008)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 6 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Revisiting A Cloud City On Venus
I've been looking forward to something like this since 1980.

'Windowless Cockpit' Like Star Trek's Patent Applied For
Wait - you thought Sulu had a window?

NASA's Warp Speed Starship Design
'As Earth's faster-than-light spaceship hung in the void between galaxies...'- John W. Campbell

ForceShoes, NASA's Exercise Sandals For Astronauts
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses.'- Murray Leinster, 1953.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

LG's 18 Inch Flexible OLED Panel Is Awesomely Cool
'...a wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling color.'

Tiniest Microphone Inspired By Fly
'Transmitting to its manipulator, far away now, all that it heard through its ear microphones...'

NASA's Highway In The Sky For Drones
Traffic is everywhere.

Palcohol Powdered Alcohol - Try Or Ban?
'I had a small can of powdered alcohol disguised as tooth powder...'

pd.id Personal Drink ID Device Like Dune 'Poison Snooper'
'The jeweled hands clutching drinks (and the unobtrusive inspections with tiny remote-cast snoopers)...'

Monsieur Bartending Robot
'He poured the liquids into his maw...'

Cities Detect Gunfire Acoustics With ShotSpotter
'Sound trackers on the roof...'

Cruise Automation's 'Highway Autopilot' For $10K
'It cut her out of the stream of vehicles and reduced the speed of her car...'

Pengheng Space Capsule Hotel Staffed Entirely By Robots
'A planet-wide chain of hotels that specialized in non-human service.'

Electric Bacteria That Live On Pure Energy
'April 5, 1977; that was the night the waveries came.'

EXACTO Smart Bullet From DARPA
Nicely visualized in what 1984 movie?

Neural Implant To Treat Memory Loss
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'

MIT's Shape-Shifting Robot Materials
The T-100, an advanced prototype, is made of liquid metal. Not quite ready.

LS3 AlphaDog Robot Marine Corps Video
'He admired the fast-plodding, articulated legs, so necessary since roads had degenerated...'

Vantablack Is Blacker Than Your Black
'Well, we have a black coating now thatís ninety-nine percent absorptive...'

Remotely Operated Gardening Rover - Student's Space Agricultural Robot
'There were things growing all over the place, not just in some domed enclosures blasted some millions of miles out in to space.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.