Robots get test run in preparing for 2025 lunar mission

March 14, 2012

Robots took small steps along a sand dune in Shizuoka Prefecture in the hopes of making a giant leap for the technology that will be vital to a lunar exploration mission around the year 2025.

Researchers from Tohoku University and other institutions put eight robotic rovers to the test in lunar-like conditions in the Nakatajima Sand Dunes in Hamamatsu on March 13.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, universities and other organizations jointly made the eight prototype robots, aiming for the planned exploration of the moon in about 15 years.

The expected obstacles for the robots include traversing fine sand grains, called regolith, which cover the moon's surface, and climbing up and down steep hills to get to rocks in craters.

In the trials, two robots successfully climbed a 20-degree slope. They are Tohoku University’s Track Walker 2, which can continuously swing arm-like tracks, called crawlers; and the Aichi University of Technology’s Lubot, which can run automatically on eight wheels.

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Tohoku University’s Track Walker 2, front right; the Aichi University of Technology’s Lubot, front left (Kotaro Ebara)

Tohoku University’s Track Walker 2, front right; the Aichi University of Technology’s Lubot, front left (Kotaro Ebara)

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  • The Aichi University of Technology’s Lubot (Kotaro Ebara)

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