News | For Climbing Robots, the Sky's the Limit
Nasa.gov - Thu 11 Jul 11:51 GMT

A new generation of robots being developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory can crawl, walk and even climb cliffs.

  Designed by engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, a four-limbed robot named LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot) can scale rock walls, gripping with hundreds of tiny fishhooks in each of its 16 fingers and using artificial intelligence (AI) to find its way around obstacles.

  In future missions to Mars or icy moons, robots with AI and climbing technology derived from LEMUR could aid in the search for similar signs of life.

  Those robots are being developed now, honing technology that may one day be part of future missions to distant worlds.

  To hone its technical skills, JPL project lead Aaron Parness tests Ice Worm on glaciers in Antarctica and ice caves on Mount St. Helens so that it can one day contribute to science on Earth and more distant worlds: Ice Worm is part of a generation of projects being developed to explore the icy moons of Saturn and Jupiter, which may have oceans under their frozen crusts.

  Designed by engineers as NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, a four-limbed robot named LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot) can scale rock walls, gripping with hundreds of tiny fishhooks in each of its 16 fingers and using artificial intelligence to find its way around obstacles.

  Developed by JPL for the military, some micro-climbers use LEMUR's fishhook grippers to cling to rough surfaces, like boulders and cave walls.

  JPL engineers created the gecko adhesive for the first generation of LEMUR, using van der Waals forces to help it cling to metal walls, even in zero gravity.