Many unmanned spacecraft have been sent to study Mars over the years, including a handful of rovers that have wandered the planet’s surface since 1997. NASA’s Opportunity rover famously operated for 14 years, far exceeding it’s planned 3-month quest. Curiosity is NASA’s newest rover, and landed on Mars in 2012. It’s also the only rover on Mars that is currently still functional. As an homage to Curiosity, redditor FmlTeddyBear built this rover-inspired robot.
While it is much smaller than any of the rovers that were actually sent to Mars and lacks the advanced scientific instruments, this robot definitely looks like the part. Like all of NASA’s Mars rovers, the robot is a six-wheeled design. All six wheels are driven in order to attain as much traction as possible. Each of the four corner wheels can pivot, which allows the robot to spin in place. The rear two wheels on each side are mounted on a joint so they can tilt, and those, along with the third wheel in front, are mounted on a second tilting joint. That setup allows the robot to traverse rough terrain at low speeds while remaining stable.
Most of the robot, including the body, joints, and wheels, are 3D-printed. FmlTeddyBear doesn’t specify what electronics or motors are being used here, but it appears that an Arduino is being used for at least some of the control. It seems that it’s being piloted via a traditional radio control system for now, though that may change in the future. Power is coming from a standard hobby LiPo battery, instead of solar panels like on the Curiosity rover.
The robot is still in development, and FmlTeddyBear plans to add an arm and additional sensors to make it capable of interacting with the environment. But it already looks great driving around on the beach right now.
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Author: Cameron Coward