The objective of this effort is to pursue development of a laboratory prototype of a launchable and retrievable robotic system. Current land-based robot exploration vehicles, such as legged and wheeled vehicles, require a large amount of energy and time to navigate through complex terrain. A launchable and retrievable tetherbot exploration system is proposed, in which a small, tethered robot is launched from a base lander or vehicle to a desired position up to 50 m away, allowed to explore the area and collect samples, hops vertically above the surface when its mission is complete, and simultaneously reeled back in by the base vehicle while still above ground. Benefits of such a system include the ability to traverse long distances in a short amount of time and minimal energy expense independent of terrain roughness, reusability with tether retrieval, and the capability of reaching locations that may be either too difficult, too dangerous, or unreachable by the larger base vehicle. The components of the system that will be developed in this plan are a hopping mechanism for the six-legged insect robot, electric reel, and reel controller. Additionally, a dynamic simulation to demonstrate the capabilities of a full launch and retrieve system will be developed.
Paulo Younse - Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Exploration Systems Research and Technology