NASA develops small origami-inspired rover bot

NASA has designed an origami-inspired robot built to reach terrains and fit into places larger rovers cannot access.

    2017/03/23

NSFW    PASADENA, CALIFORNIA — NASA has designed an origami-inspired robot built to reach terrains and fit into places larger rovers cannot access.

The Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot, or PUFFER, is being developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, NASA reported.

The robot has two wheels that can be folder over the body, which allow the mini-rover to crawl in addition to roll. The PUFFER also has a tail for stability and comes equipped with a high-resolution camera, according to SPACE.com.

It has solar panels on its belly and can flip over when its batteries need to recharge.

The robot can climb up inclines of up to 45 degrees, investigate overhangs and be dropped into pits or craters, according to NASA.

On a flat dirt path, the PUFFER has a range of about 2,050 feet (625 meters) on one battery charge, NASA reported.

The tiny scout robots are meant to accompany larger rovers and can be flattened like cards and stacked one on top of the other.

Developers are now planning to add scientific instruments and giving giving the PUFFER autonomous capabilities. It is currently controlled remotely via Bluetooth.

Future designs may also increase the size of the PUFFER for added durability, according to NASA.
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