TESTS IN THE DESERT
It was in a conference room in Pasadena, California, that the teams presented their concepts and their robots. The next day, they traveled to the desert, an environment quite similar to the surface of the Moon (except for its freezing temperatures and deadly radiation).
For a series of first-generation concepts, they’ve done incredibly well, says Jennifer Lopez, business manager of Astrobotic Technology, one of the companies responsible for sending equipment to the moon for NASA. . ET-Quad sprinted several meters on an uneven surface before rolling over. CalTech’s mini-zipline carefully ascended and descended the cable on a 27-degree slope at a speed of 45 cm/min, or 1/5 the speed of the rover Perseverance (but on a much more marked and steep terrain).
“It’s a small step for robots…”, had fun saying Connor Nail, an engineer from Arizona State University.
It was ultimately COBRA that came out on top in this competition. It moved as expected in three different ways. He twisted down a dirt road until a small berm blocked him; it moved sideways down an incline until it became entangled in a bush, but eventually managed to free itself due to its ring-like configuration, then rolled free. Fortunately, this kind of situation will not happen on the Moon, as one of the students pointed out.
Shortly after, as the robot rolled down the slope in its hexagonal shape, everyone present (both the students from the seven competing schools and the judges) clapped in support. “That’s what it’s all about,” says Eddie Tunstel, chief technology officer at Motiv Space Systems. “All we do is look for good ideas. »