Mini Rover Image
The Mini Rover was modeled on a NASA rover design and used in the laboratory to develop and test complex locomotion techniques robust enough to help it climb hills composed of granular material such as ordinary beach sand. (Credit: Christopher Moore, Georgia Tech)

The next generation of exploration rovers will need to be good at climbing hills covered with loose material and avoiding entrapment on soft granular surfaces. Built with wheeled appendages that can be lifted and wheels able to wiggle, a new robot called “Mini Rover” has developed and tested rear rotator pedaling that combines paddling, walking, and wheel spinning motions.

Using in-house 3D printers, Georgia Tech collaborated with NASA to create a vehicle with four wheeled appendages driven by 12 different motors. Though the Mini Rover was designed to study lunar and planetary exploration, the lessons learned could also be applicable to terrestrial locomotion.