MIT's new modular lunar robot has 'worms' for arms

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MIT engineers have designed an intelligently walking lunar robot inspired by the animal kingdom. The “mix-and-match” system is made up of worm-like robotic limbs that astronauts could configure into various robot “species” resembling spiders, elephants, goats and oxen. The team won the Best Paper Award last week at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Aerospace Conference.

WORMS (Walking Oligomeric Robotic Mobility System) is a team’s vision of a future where astronauts living on a lunar base delegate activities to robotic minions. However, to avoid “a zoo of machines” with various robots for every task imaginable, modular WORMS would allow astronauts to swap limbs, bases, and appendages for the task at hand. For example, they could assemble a spider robot to crawl inside dangerous lava tubes to drill frozen water or assemble an elephant-like pack robot to haul heavy equipment. They could even make a goat/ox combination to carry solar panels. And when they’re done with the task, they can take it apart and put it away until it’s used for something else.

The system includes a worm-like appendage, which can interlock with a frame through a twist and lock mechanism. Wok-shaped “shoes” can then snap onto the other end of the appendix. Finally, a small tool allows astronauts to release the spring pins from the block during disassembly. The team has already developed a six-legged, go-kart-sized prototype using software that coordinates multiple worm members. They successfully demonstrated assembly, disassembly and navigation in a recent field test.

“Astronauts could walk into the hangar, pick out the worms they need, along with the appropriate shoes, body, sensors and tools, and they could put it all together and then take it apart to create a new one,” said George Lordos, Ph.D. candidate and graduate instructor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. “The design is flexible, durable and cost effective.”

Representation of a six-legged (spider-like) robot prototype.


The team spawned the idea in 2022 as a response to NASA’s Big, Innovative, Breakthrough (BIG) Ideas Challenge, an annual competition for university students to conjure up innovative ideas. In that year’s edition, NASA challenged students to develop robots to navigate extreme terrain without wheels. The MIT team focused on a lunar robot capable of navigating the moon’s south pole, which some suspect could include frozen water – essential for astronauts’ long-term survival – but also terrain complex with thick dust, rocky slopes and lava tubes.

As the students brainstormed solutions, they were inspired by the animal kingdom. “Thinking about these animal inspirations, we realized that one of the simplest animals, the worm, makes movements similar to those of an arm, a leg, a spine or a tail. “, explains the deputy team leader and graduate student of AeroAstro. Michael Brown. “And then the light bulb went out: we could build all these animal-inspired robots using worm-like appendages.”

Although each WORMS appendage weighs about 20 pounds on Earth, they would only weigh about three pounds in the moon’s atmosphere, allowing astronauts to easily assemble, disassemble, and reassemble them like a Lego set. high tech. The team is already working on a second-generation model with longer and slightly heavier appendages, with an eye on heavy-equipment hauling robots.

“There are many buzzwords that are used to describe efficient systems for future space exploration: modular, reconfigurable, adaptable, flexible, cross-functional, etc.,” said Kevin Kempton, an engineer at the Langley Research Center of the NASA and judge of the 2022. Big idea challenge. “The MIT WORMS concept incorporates all of these qualities and more.”

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How to Create a New Facebook Account Without a Phone Number
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If you are new to this social networking platform then… Create a Facebook profile It can be stressful for you. So here are some tips to help you get started with Facebook:

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you signed up for a Facebook account via email, you’ll need to contact
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if you want it now Create a new Facebook account Using your phone number instead of your email address, you need to follow these steps:

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Here we will learn how to create a new Facebook gmail account on computer, and here are the necessary steps:

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When using your phone to create a new Facebook Gmail account, you must first Download the Facebook app from Google Play
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