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Designing More Robust Robots For Space E…xploration [science |2016-01-06]

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It’s not easy landing a 1-ton robot on Mars. The Curiosity rover’s landing, famously nicknamed “Seven Minutes of Terror,” involved using large parachutes and jet propulsion technology to guide the delicate payload onto the Martian surface. Now, a team led by NASA and the University of California, Berkeley is working on a new prototype of robots made of rods and elastomers that would allow them to be dropped safely from a spacecraft and walk away. Mechanical engineering professor Alice Agogino explains.

"The idea is it could be dropped from a spacecraft or possibly from a satellite, deployed. And that it absorbs energy through these elastomers. It's a particular structure. And would protect the payload in the center. So not only can it be dropped and not be damaged, it can also contain, in the middle of it, a payload that would not be damaged."

Agogino says that the design makes the robots much more robust for space exploration.

"It could be under harsher conditions, harsher terrains, much, much lighter and orders of magnitude less expensive."

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