The reach of an exploratory robot on rough terrain would be extended.
A proposed robotic system for scientific exploration of rough terrain would include a stationary or infrequently moving larger base robot, to which would be tethered a smaller hopping robot of the type described in the immediately preceding article. The two-robot design would extend the reach of the base robot, making it possible to explore nearby locations that might otherwise be inaccessible or too hazardous for the base robot.
The system would include a launching mechanism and a motor-driven reel on the larger robot. The outer end of the tether would be attached to the smaller robot; the inner end of the tether would be attached to the reel.
The figure depicts the launching and retrieval process. The launching mechanism would aim and throw the smaller robot toward a target location, and the tether would be paid out from the reel as the hopping robot flew toward the target. Upon completion of exploratory activity at the target location, the smaller robot would be made to hop and, in a coordinated motion, the tether would be wound onto the
reel to pull the smaller robot back to the larger one.
At the time of reporting the information for this article, the launching and retrieval processes had been studied by computational simulations for various launching angles, target distances, hopping heights and angles, and tether-reel-in rates. A prototype hopping robot and a reel had been built. Work on the launching mechanism and on control subsystems for the hopping robot and the reel remained to be done.
This work was done by Paulo Younse and Hrand Aghazarian of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Mechanics/Machinery category. NPO-45063
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