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 ")

Pent-Up NASA Scientists Simulate Life On Mars
'That gives it complete isolation.' - David H. Keller, 1932.

Dust Movement On The Moon, Saturn's Rings Solved
'...The dust normally on the surface picks up and keeps a charge.' - Hal Clement, 1956.

Axiom - The World's First Private Space Station?
'So Webb Foster had built his space laboratory... It was a great crystal sphere, a thousand feet in diameter.' - Nat Schachner, 1937.

Moon's Huge Lava Tubes Perfect For Heinlein's Bat Wings
'It's just a big volcanic bubble, two miles across...' - Robert Heinlein, 1957.

 

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

Matrix Sentinel Ancestor, The Pipe Inspector Robot From Krakow
Watch out, Keanu!

Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...'

Robotic Physician Assistant Has Steady 'Hands'
'You turned the screws below and the prongs moved... with caliper slowness, minuteness and precision.'

Roboy 3DPrinted Humanoid Robot
'A robot child that would be reared within the bosom of a human family...'

Robird Flapping Wing Drones Keep Airports Safe
'Mitch heard a rasping, flacketing buzz, like a big insect...'

3D Printed Fashion - Plastirobes And Transdresses
'... dial a new fashion every day!'

Robotic Lawn Mower Powered By Sun, Arduino
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself like a contented hen...'

Google Perfects 'Blade Runner-style' Photo Details
'Pull back... stop... enhance 57-19...'

Pokerbot Libratus Learns To Lie (Bluff)
'Lying's a vital part of your psychological defense system - you're naked without it!'

Otto Autonomous Robot Trucks Run Into... Legal Snag
'They were automatic trucks such as are used for making deliveries...'

Tiny Drones With Sticky Feet Pollinate Flowers Now
'The Scarab rubbed its hind legs together...'

ThreeForm 3D Scans And Digitally Simulates Customer Fashion
'...A miracle of misapplied engineering caused his own face to appear on the illustrated figures dressed in trooper red.'

CloudFisher - Moroccan Fog Farmers Harvest Moisture From The Air
'That moisture trickles down...'

Piaggio Gita Personal Robot Porter
'Carry his bag... and follow him faithfully...'

Ardu McDuino, Bagpipe Robot
'Rollo sat at the keyboard, prim, inhuman, rigid, twin lenses focused...'

Not Quite Self-Replicating Robots, Franka Emika
'... it shares with mankind the ability to propagate.'

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.