Image above: The RASSOR robot climbs a hill during recent testing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Photo credit: NASA

Engineers Building Hard-working Mining Robot

1.25.13

After decades of designing and operating robots full of scientific gear to study other worlds, NASA is working on a prototype that leaves the delicate instruments at home in exchange for a sturdy pair of diggers and the reliability and strength to work all day, every day for years.

Think of it as a blue collar robot.

Dubbed RASSOR, for Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot and pronounced “razor,” the autonomous machine is far from space-ready, but the earliest design has shown engineers the broad strokes of what their lunar soil excavator needs in order to operate reliably.

“We were surprised at what we could do with it,” said Rachel Cox, a Kennedy Space Center engineer on the RASSOR team.

The primary challenge for any digging robot operating off Earth is that they have to be light and small enough to fly on a rocket, but heavy enough to operate in gravity lower than that of Earth.

Read more: NASA – Engineers Building Hard-working Mining Robot.

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