NASA/JPL: Transforming Rover Can Explore Toughest Terrain

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NASA/JPL: Transforming Rover Can Explore Toughest Terrain

Post by bystander » Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:54 pm

This Transforming Rover Can Explore the Toughest Terrain
NASA | JPL-Caltech | DuAxel | 2020 Oct 13

Made of a pair of two-wheeled vehicles, NASA's DuAxel is designed to descend crater sides and near-vertical cliffs on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

Click to play embedded YouTube video.
DuAxel: NASA Prototype Rover to Explore the Toughest Terrain ~ Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
A rover trundles over rocky terrain, its four metal wheels clattering along until they encounter a seemingly insurmountable hazard: a steep slope. Down below is a potential trove of science targets. With a typical rover, the operators would need to find another target, but this is DuAxel, a robot built for situations exactly like this.

The rover is actually made of a pair of two-wheeled rovers, each called Axel. To divide and conquer, the rover stops, lowers its chassis and anchors it to the ground before essentially splitting in two. With the rear half of DuAxel (short for "dual-Axel") firmly in place, the forward half undocks and rolls away on a single axle. All that connects the two halves now is a tether that unspools as the lead axle approaches the hazard and rappels down the slope, using instruments stowed in its wheel hub to study a scientifically attractive location that would normally be out of reach.

This scenario played out last fall during a field test in the Mojave Desert, when a small team of engineers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California put the modular rover through a series of challenges to test the versatility of its design. ...
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