Paws on Mars
Four-legged robots that look like dogs are now appearing (and working) on Mars! Scientists have armed these “Mars Dogs” with special sensors that help them to carefully move across terrain that’s ruff…er, rough.
Past Mars Rovers like Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity did not have the fancy dog bot moves. Although Mars rovers made fantastic discoveries on the red planet, they often ran into trouble. Mars Rover Spirit got stuck in sand and took engineers back on Earth eight months to free the rover. If “Mars Dogs” fall, trip, or get stuck they get right back up or get moving again. Rowroooo! (Note: Mars Dogs do not actually bark.)
Dog bots can do so much! They can avoid strange obstacles in their path and choose which direction to travel. The bot is many times lighter than a rover, clocking in at 70 pounds, while a Rover is about 400 pounds. Mars Dog bots can fit into smaller, more remote spaces, like Mars caves, for instance. A Mars Dog can walk around rocks and build a map in the navigation system that helps scientists. A possible 1,000 caves need exploring on Earth. The bots are going to help us visit each and every cave.
“Au Spot” is the familiar name for
this famous four-legged robot
canine built by more than
60 different researchers and
engineers. This dog bot uses
Artificial Intelligence(AI) programs
to analyze whatever it encounters
in space. To prepare for real
spaceship trips, Au Spot practices
moving through a variety of tunnels,
hallways, obstacle courses, and
ramps—places that might resemble the ground on Mars.
What do you think about dog bots? In Frankenbots, Stu and the robots have a pet dog named Bog. If you had a dog bot, what would you name it? What would it look like?