The European Space Agency (ESA, for its acronym in English), is testing a prototype robot with four legs with an ability to walk and jump, which could replace the well-known Rover in future missions to the Moon or Mars.
SpaceBok has been designed by a team of Swiss students from ETH Zurich and ZHAW Zurich. “The robots with legs can cross an unstructured terrain and could be used to explore areas of interest, such as craters, which cannot be reached by rovers,” team member Patrick Barton said in a statement. “As they are very versatile, they can change the way they walk to adapt to different terrains.”
In the following video shared by SpaceBok, the skills of this new space explorer are shown:
“Unlike other robots with legs, SpaceBok has been designed mainly to jump,” adds team member Elias Hampp, something that although not particularly useful on Earth, on surfaces with less gravity than the Moon, could make it reach a height of four meters, generating a “fast and efficient way to move forward.”
“We are currently implementing and testing vision sensors, to increase the autonomy and strength of SpringBok,” says team member Radek Zenkl. they are made in a 64 square meter sandbox filled with different sizes of sand, gravel and rock, which is part of the Planetary Robotics Laboratory at the ESTEC technical center of the European Space Agency in Noordwijk, in the Netherlands.
But for now, the rovers are still our allies in extraterrestrial exploration. The joint program of ESA and Roscosmos to explore Mars includes two missions with these robots. The British space agency has announced a contest to choose a name of the rover that will go to Mars in the framework of the Russian-European mission ExoMars in 2020: any citizen of a member country of ESA can participate and the winner will have the opportunity to visit the Airbus plant, where it is built.