Spot, Boston Dynamics’ robot dog, has a lengthy resume that includes herding sheep in New Zealand, exploring factories for Ford, and even aiding the NYPD during a recent hostage crisis.
The multi-talented bot’s next mission, though, might be the most intriguing yet: exploring Mars for NASA.
Constraints of a Wheeled Mars Rover
NASA has already landed four rovers on Mars, but because they all ride on wheels, they can only investigate the planet’s relatively flat parts.
Scientists, on the other hand, want to be able to study the entire planet, and the areas that a wheeled Mars rover cannot reach are among the most attractive.
Mars is riddled with caves and lava tubes, which may be the ideal areas to seek for signs of ancient extraterrestrial life.
They may also hold the secret to human life surviving on Mars in the future, since Martian colonists may be able to seek sanctuary underground, evading radiation, harsh temperatures, and meteorites that may endanger their survival on the planet’s surface.
Over 60 scientists and engineers from NASA, CalTech, MIT, and other universities collaborated to create the Spot robot dog, which they believe may be the ultimate Mars rover for studying such underlying structures.
The Robot Dog is on the go.
While Boston Dynamics’ robot dog is already incredibly adept, it wasn’t quite ready for a job as a Mars rover straight out of the box, so the researchers had to make some modifications, which they presented on December 14 at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) annual conference.