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Cave Robot

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This research is developing gravity-agnostic mobility for any natural terrain. The robot uses hundreds of sharp claws called microspines that adapt to a surface independently to create secure anchor points. After vertical and inverted climbing demonstrations in the lab in late 2012, we were given a Popular Science Best of What’s New Award for an Innovation of the Year. In this task, we are performing high-fidelity field experiments to test the robot’s mobility in caves in California and New Mexico. Caves provide a chance to test the robot in all gravitational orientations for future missions to caves on Mars and the Moon, or for missions to asteroids, where a mobile robot will have to grip to the surface to avoid falling off. Microspine grippers were also tested successfully aboard NASA’s zero-g aircraft on multiple rock types, enabling the first ever zero-g drilling demonstration in 2014.

Completion Date:  10/01/2015

Point of Contact:  Aaron Parness - Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Sponsored by:  Center Innovation Funds



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