Many desert environments are used as testing grounds for robots that will eventually be deployed for space exploration. Specifically, many deserts are considered to be substantially similar to the environment of the surface of Mars.

This agile walking/driving SherpaTT rover was brought to the PERASPERA Morocco field trials by a team from Germany’s DFKI Robotics Innovation Center.

The robotics technologies being developed for future planetary exploration are tested in deserts like the Sahara (pictured above), because the soil, the rocks, the dunes, and the environment in general is very similar to the surface of Mars. More information on general robotics trials in the Moroccan desert can be found here.

Another notable space robotics project that has been tested in desert environments is the Pop-Up Flat Folding Exporer Robot (PUFFER), which was designed with the ability to flatten itself and to skitter up 45-degree slopes. Its lightweight, portable and compact structure could prove to be useful inspiration for a desert robot project.

The use of a tail for stability and steering is also an interesting implementation.

Further information about the PUFFER robot can be found at the Engineers Australia and NASA websites, as well as the video below:

Finally, while this blog has already discussed RHex robots in sand, technical reports on the functionality of these robots over sand dunes would be a useful addition to the resources we have compiled. You can find two reports discussing this below:

Desert RHex Technical Report: Jornada and White Sands Trip
Desert RHex Technical Report: Tengger Desert Trip

Categories: Robotics


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