Expandable Rover for Planetary Applications

Integration study of Sherpa. The manipulator is positioned in a way that positively influences the center of mass for stepping onto the obstacle. Thus the arm is actively supporting locomotion. (Photo: DFKI)

Technical Details

Size: variable size: in standard pose the robot has a footprint of 240cmx240cm and a ground clearance of approximately 50cm. The height of the manipulation tower is then 120cm. The length of the stretched manipulation arm is 180cm
Weight: approx 200kg
Power supply: Lithum Polymer Batteries at 48.8V
Actuation/ Engine:
Brushless DC motors with customized FPGA based local electronics
Stereo camera and laser range finder to the front,
single camera and laser range finder to the back,
single cameras to both sides.
Customized Force-Torque Sensors for each swing unit.
IMU for orientation measurements
Position, speed, current and temperature sensors for each joint
Number of Degrees of freedom:
30 DOF in total: 4DOF per swing unit + 2DOF per wheel (4 swing units and wheels in total) and 6 DOF manipulation arm

Organisational Details

Application Field: Space Robotics
Related Projects: TransTerrA
Semi-autonomous cooperative exploration of planetary surfaces including the installation of a logistic chain as well as consideration of the terrestrial applicability of individual aspects (05.2013- 12.2017)
Related Software: MARS
Machina Arte Robotum Simulans
Node Level Data Link Communication
An add-on for Blender allowing editing and exporting of robots for the MARS simulation
Robot Construction Kit
This system is not actively used anymore.

System description

Artist impression of Sherpa in within the RIMRES scenario. (Source: DFKI)

Sherpa is a wheeled rover with an actuated suspension system. This means, that on the one hand the rover can make use of the relatively energy efficient wheeled locomotion, while being on the other hand highly flexible concerning the adaption to various terrains and the possibility to overcome a high range of obstacles.

The manipulation arm is a multipurpose device, apart from the manipulation and assembly tasks that are required in the RIMRES project, it furthermore can be used as a flexible “hazard cam” for a human operator. The manipulator is designed and optimized in a way that allows it to be used for locomotion support as well.


Sherpa: Lifting

Sherpa nutzt seinen Manipulatorarm um sich abzustützen, während er zwei Beine anhebt

Sherpa: Stepping over

Sherpa nutzt den Manipulator, um ein Hindernis zu überwinden

Sherpa: Stacking camera payload

Der Rover Sherpa baut einen Payloadstack aus zwei einzelnen Payload-Items zusammen und setzt ihn auf der Oberfläche ab.

Sherpa: Ausbaufähiger Rover for planetarische Anwendungen

Das Video zeigt die Rolle von Sherpa im Projekt RIMRES und die ersten Eindrücke der Flexibilität der Lokomotion des Systems.

Back to the list of robot systems
last updated 04.05.2022
to top