Four-legged jumping robots to explore the moon

LEAP’s roving vehicle is based on the two-legged robot, ANYmal, developed at ETH Zürich and spin-off ANYbotics. Credit: ETH Zürich / RSL Robotics Labs

An AI-trained four-legged robot has learned the same lesson as the Apollo astronauts – that jumping could be the best way to move on the moon. An update on LEAP (Legged Exploration of the Aristarchus Plateau), an important concept study supported by ESA for exploring some of the most challenging lunar terrain, was presented at the Europlanet Science Conference 2022 (EPSC) in Granada by Patrick Bambach.

“The LEAP target is the Aristarchus Plateau, a region of the Moon that is particularly rich in geological features but extremely difficult to access,” said Patrick Bambach of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. “Using a robot, we can investigate the main features of a study of geological history and the evolution of the moon, such as projectiles around craters, new impact sites, and implosion lava tubesThe material may not have been altered by space weathering and other processes.”

The LEAP team is working on integrating the robot into the European Space Agency’s Large European Logistics Landing Module (EL3), which is scheduled to land on the Moon several times from late 2020 to early 2030. LEAP is based on the two-legged robot, ANYmal, which has been Developed at ETH Zürich and spin-off ANYbotics. It is currently being adapted to the lunar environment by a consortium of ETH Zurich, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, OHB, University of Münster and The Open University.

Four-legged LEAP jumping robots to explore the moon

Various versions of the two-legged robot, ANYmal, have been developed at ETH Zürich and the spin-off ANYbotics. Credit: ETH Zürich / RSL Robotics Labs

“Conventional rovers have allowed great discoveries on the Moon and Mars, but they have limitations,” Bambach said. Explore the terrain with loose soilLarge rocks or slopes over 15 degrees are especially difficult with wheels. For example, its mission to the Mars rover, Spirit, was terminated when it got stuck in the sand.”

ANYmal can move in different gaits, enabling it to cover large distances in a short period of time, and climb steep slopesSpread Scientific devicesAnd even recovery in the unlikely event of a fall. The robot can also use its legs to dig channels into the soil, and overturn rocks or smaller boulders for further examination and sample capture.

Initially, the robot was trained using a reinforcement learning approach in virtual environment To simulate the lunar terrain and the characteristics of gravity and dust. He was also deployed in the field for a walk in the fresh air.

  • Four-legged LEAP jumping robots to explore the moon

    The LEAP rover is trained using a reinforcement learning approach in a virtual environment to simulate the characteristics of lunar terrain, gravity, and dust. Credit: ETH Zürich / RSL Robotics Labs

  • Four-legged LEAP jumping robots to explore the moon

    LEAP (Polar Exploration of the Aristarchus Plateau) is a mission concept study funded by the European Space Agency to explore some of the most challenging lunar terrain. Credit: ETH Zürich / RSL Robotics Labs

  • Four-legged LEAP jumping robots to explore the moon

    LEAP’s target is the Aristarchus Plateau, a region of the Moon that is particularly rich in geological features but extremely difficult to reach. Credit: NASA/ESA

“Interestingly, Animal began to use a kinematic position similar to jumping, just as the Apollo astronauts did — realizing that jumping can be more energy efficient than walking,” Bambach said.

The current design is still less than 100 kg and includes 10 kg of scientific payload mass, and could theoretically carry multispectral sensors, ground-penetrating radar, mass spectrometers, gravimeters, and other instruments.

“LEAP’s ability to collect selected samples and bring them to the lander or ascent vehicle provides additional exciting opportunities to sample return missions in extremely challenging environments on the Moon or Mars,” Bambach said.


Using C-shaped wheels, this craft can climb over more challenging lunar terrain


more information:
www.epsc2022.eu/

Provided by Europlanet

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