NASA’s Innovative Training of Robotic Dogs for Lunar Missions

NASA quietly advances a project training a robotic dog, aimed at lunar exploration and adapting to changing terrains on the Moon.

NASA is quietly training a robotic dog to navigate the lunar surface. A multidisciplinary team, consisting of engineers, planetary scientists, and cognitive scientists, has discreetly tested a four-legged robot named “Spirit” at 6,000 feet elevation on the snow-covered rocky hills of Mount Hood, Oregon.

This project, dubbed Legged Autonomous Surface Science in Analog Environments (LASSIE), aims to enable the robot to adapt in real-time to evolving environments, with the ultimate goal of traversing the lunar surface and potentially exploring other planets in the solar system.

“Quadruped robots must be able to detect their interaction with the ground beneath them and swiftly adjust their motion strategy,”

said Feifei Qian, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Southern California, in a statement.

The team has secured a two-year, $2 million grant from NASA to facilitate the deployment of these robots on the Moon’s surface. These robots will be able to communicate with each other, for instance, alerting to potential dangers nearby, thereby adapting to the environment collaboratively.

They could even assist each other out of pits or form bridges by connecting together.

The research isn’t limited to quadrupedal robotic dogs; the same technology is being applied to wheeled and hexapod robots.

Currently, Spirit has mastered various environments, from the beaches of California to the glacier-covered hills of Mount Hood. The LASSIE team plans to allow it to roam freely in New Mexico’s White Sands National Park soon.

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NASA’s Innovative Training of Robotic Dogs for Lunar Missions

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