The Canadian Space Agency (CSA), which invented and made the International Space Station's 30-year robotic Canadarm project, is working on lunar and Mars robot rovers. It recently unveiled five rover prototypes and put them through their paces on the agency's testing terrain, which simulates the surfaces of Mars and the moon.
The new lineup includes four lunar rovers -- the Micro-Rover Platform with Tooling Arm, the Kapvik Micro-Rover, the Artemis, and the Lunar Exploration Light Rover -- and the Mars Exploration Science Rover. They are in addition to the Juno and Rex rovers, which have been operating since 2010.
The CSA also developed some spinoff technologies resulting from its rover development work. They include the SL-Commander automated electric all-terrain vehicle, a fuel cell, and the Q6 mini-computer.
Click on the image below to check them out.
The CSA's Rex rover has a robotic arm that simulates collecting Martian rock and soil samples. It travels at 4cm/sec (1.57inch/sec). On its six aluminum or rubber wheels, the rover can navigate over obstacles up to 15cm (5.9 inches) high and climb slopes of up to 10 degrees. Rex weighs 140kg (308.64 pounds) and measures 152 x 142 x 76cm (59.84 x 55.9 x 29.92 inches). It can carry up to 30kg (66.13 pounds) of science payloads. In 2010, the CSA jointly field tested the rover with NASA at the Flagstaff Meteor Crater in Arizona. (Source: Canadian Space Agency)
These CSA rovers are a long way past "proof of concept." The concept(s) has(have) already been proven by Curiosity. These are correctly named prototypes, but they're not production prototypes, the type ervin007 apparently is thinking of; they're R&D/engineering prototypes, to test different designs and paths to achieving the same goals. CSA joint tests them with NASA, just like they did the Canadarms, and NASA has the means to put these on the moon, on Mars or in space.
There is currently much discussion around the term "platform," which may be preceded by the adjectives "mobile," "wearable," "medical," "healthcare," etc. However, regardless of the platform being discussed, they usually have one key aspect in common: They tend to be wireless. So, why is this one aspect so fairly universal? The answer is convenience.
Everyone has a MEMS story. For most of us it’s probably the airbag that saved our lives or the life of a loved one. Perhaps it’s the tire pressure sensor that alerted us about deflation before we were stranded alone on a dark muddy road.
Bioimimicry is not merely a helpful design tool -- it also encourages designers to think not only about how to solve design problems by imitating nature, but how to make the products, materials, and systems they design more ecologically sound and nature-friendly.
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