A Semi-Autonomous Free-Climbing Robot for the Exploration of Crater Walls and Bottoms

(Photo: Bernd Langer, Studio Banck)
(Photo: Bernd Langer, Studio Banck)
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The goal of the "SpaceClimber" project is the development of a biologically inspired, energy-efficient and adaptively free-climbing robot for steep slopes. This project builds on the experience of the ARAMIES project (DLR Grant No. 50JR0561 & ESA Contract No. 18116/04/NL/PA)and the SCORPION project (DARPA Grant No. N0014-99-1-0483 & NASA-USRA Grant No. 8008-003-002-01). SpaceClimber should prove that walking robotic systems present a solution for future missions on difficult terrain, in particular missions in craters or rock fissures. The robotic system that we intend to develop should be able to conquer irregular slopes of up to 80% and should be in a position to navigate with local autonomy using built-in sensors.

Duration: 01.07.2007 till 30.11.2010
Donee: German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH
Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology
German Aerospace Center e.V.
Grant number: Gefördert von der Raumfahrt-Agentur des Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR) mit Mitteln des Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Technologie aufgrund eines Beschlusses des Deutschen Bundestages. Förderkennzeichen: 50RA0705 sowie der European Space Agency (ESA) Contract No.: 18116/04/NL/PA
Application Field: Space Robotics
SAR- & Security Robotics
Related Projects: Lunares
Reconfigurable Robots for Extraterrestrial Exploration (07.2007- 12.2009)
An Eight-Legged Robot for Hazardous Outdoor-Terrain (01.2001- 12.2005)
Reconfigurable Integrated Multi Robot Exploration System (09.2009- 12.2012)
Intelligent Mobility (04.2009- 06.2012)
Virtual Crater
Development of Virtual Simulation and Demonstration Environment for Planetary Exploration with Focus on Extraterrestrial Crater (05.2009- 08.2012)
Related Robots: SpaceClimber
Related Software: MARS
Machina Arte Robotum Simulans

Project details

CAD drawing of the final SpaceClimber actuator (Source: Jens Hilljegerdes, DFKI GmbH)
SpaceClimber actuator (Photo: Jens Hilljegerdes, DFKI GmbH)
Fully integrated SpaceClimber actuator (Source: Florian Cordes, DFKI GmbH)

A Free-Climbing Robot for Extraterrestrial Craters: A Robust, Energy-Efficient Climbing Robot for In-Situ Exploration in Difficult Terrain

The aim of the project "SpaceClimber" is the development of a biologically inspired, energy-efficient, and adaptively free-climbing robot for steep canyons. This project is based on the experience gained from the ARAMIES-Project (DLR funding 50JR0561 & ESA Contract 18116/04/NL/PA), and the SCORPION-Project (DARPA Grant No. N0014-99-1-0483 & NASA-USRA Grant No. 8008-003-002-01).

Regions, such as rock fields, which require highly mobile systems in order to carry out in-situ examinations, typically belong from a scientific point of view to the most fascinating places on moon and mars. Their attraction is only topped by crater and canyon walls which are even more difficult to explore.

It is assumed that from these slopes, comparable to slopes on the earth, it is possible to get access to a variety of sedimentary layers from different eras. Therefore, these places are predestined for exogeological and exobiological investigation. Of particular scientific interest on the moon are the asteroid craters at the poles, where it is expected to find old (inter)-stellar particles as well as volatile substances, e.g., frozen water.

The "SpaceClimber" project will prove that legged systems present a very suitable solution to future missions in unstructured, uneven terrain, in particular in crater and crevices in the rock. The robot system to be developed will be able to safely control up to 80 % non-uniform grades. Local autonomous navigation will be possible due to special sensor technology and new software algorithms for slope navigation .

Thus, in the field of planetary mobility, a technology will be developed which will make future crater and canyon exploration possible. Special emphasis is given to robustness, energy efficiency, redundancy, and autonomy of the robot.

As high stability in steep terrain is of utmost importance, the development and realization of novel feet concepts play an important role in the SpaceClimber Project.


SpaceClimber: Frei kletternder Roboter für extraterrestrische Krater

SpaceClimber in dem künstlichen Mond-Krater der DFKI RIC Weltraumexplorationshalle.


Source: Jens Hilljegerdes, DFKI GmbH
Photo: Bernd Langer, Studio Banck
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