This robot for lunar exploration is surprisingly agile with its almost human movements!

In December 2021, the Japanese robot company Gitai tested its R1-rover, ordered by Jaxa and intending to travel to the Moon. A video released a few months later makes it possible to admire the device’s capabilities under realistic conditions that reflect the properties of the lunar regolith.

In parallel with the Artemis program, some space agencies are preparing their next arrival to the Moon with rovers. This is the case the Japanese Space Agency in collaboration with the Japanese company specializing in robot technology, Gitai. In September 2020, Jaxa announced the establishment of a collaboration with the private company, with the aim of designing robots assigned to carry out missions in space.

For this purpose, Gitai has developed a multifunction rover, soberly called R1. In December 2021, the properties of R1 were tested under realistic conditions on a surface that mimicked a plain on the Moon and its specificities. In a video released in February 2022, the robot impresses with its fluidity and its capabilities. The rover can thus easily maneuver and change direction, overcome natural obstacles or even collect objects on the ground. The experiment took place on the Sagamihara campus in Japan.

A marvel of technology

The R1 is equipped with four legs, the wheels of which, multi-directional, allow the rover to quickly adjust its position. The test shows that the device is able to overcome obstacles and medium-sized stones while raising or lowering the rover’s boot. Thanks to its mobility, it can also climb slopes whose slope is estimated at between 15 and 20 degrees.

Two articulated arms located on the front of the robot make it possible to perform regolith collection operations on the ground. Grippers located at the ends of the arms can use a small shovel to drop the moon’s dust samples into a container, which is then sealed by the rover before being stored in a container. The arms, which are divided into several parts, give the R1 a wide range of motion. Remotely controlled by an engineer, the device performs precise and technical movements: It can easily take a strap off a package, move and use tools. Gitai exhibits its know-how by having its rover built a communication relay and a set of solar panels. R1 performs with precision the movements required for the assembly of the structure, by screwing the supports or by adjusting the position of the solar panels.

R1, more effective than a human?

The collaboration established between Jaxa and Gitai aims to democratize robot missions to space and the Moon. L ‘Japanese space agency wants to monitor operations at reduced financial cost, with robots working efficiently where humans can not walk. On his side The InternetJapanese company reveals its ambition: participate in the construction of lunar bases and Martians as early as the 2040s and beyond.

As for the R1 rover, the impressive technical demonstration in December 2021 was to confirm the Japanese space administration in its ambition of robotic missions to the Moon. Gitai states during the video presentation of the rover that the latter could quickly make its first turns in the lunar dust as early as 2025.

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