Origami-inspired robot to serve as scout for Mars rovers
The National Aeronautics & Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is testing a small robot that will likely be used to serve as a scout for Mars rovers in the future.
Origami-inspired Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot (PUFFER) is a rugged yet portable robotic machine. It has a lightweight structure, and is capable of tucking its wheels, become flatten, and explore hard-to-reach locations.
PUFFER project manager Jaakko Karras said it can do parallel science with a rover on planets like Mars, increasing the amount of research scientists are doing in a day.
Christine Fuller, a mechanical engineer with JPL, said, explained, “The circuit board includes both the electronics and the body, which allows it to be a lot more compact. There are no mounting fasteners or other parts to deal with. Everything is integrated to begin with.”
The small robot has already been tested under different rugged conditions, including Antarctica’s frozen plains and the Mojave Desert in California.
Currently, PUFFER is being controlled remotely using the Bluetooth technology, but the project scientists have plans to add autonomy, allowing a swarm of robots to conduct research as a team.