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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Robo Reptiles and Slither Bots

Robo Reptiles and Slither Bots

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, January 31, 2020/Categories: natural history, space science, art and design, environment, adventure

                                                               Snake-like robot (credit: ESA)

An old adage in space exploration says: "No Buck Rogers, no bucks" ie., no money for space exploration without some guy in a space suit is doing the exploring. That sentiment may be passe now considering all the recent developments in robotics.

Humans require food and water, a non-lethal radiation environment, and are expensive to maintain in space. However, mechanical robots are cheap, easier to design, and more flexible to move around. Strange and currently unavailable environments on Mars, Europa, or any number of distant moons around Saturn would be open for exploration if robots were utilized. The European Space Agency showed the way with its Huygens probe of Titan which landed on that strange moon of Saturn. Other robots are being developed that look like snakes that will explore the surface of Mars for signs of life.

Current robot landers and space probes are large, slow, and require flat landscapes to navigate properly. They also cost billions of dollars to develop and transport to Mars, Jupiter, or Saturn. By contrast, small and inexpensive robots, using engineered designs that apply insight gained from natural life forms (biomimicry) including snakes, centipedes, turtles, and geckos are limited only by the imagination. Equipped with smart photographic, video, and other senors to detect specific compounds allow virtually unlimited use of such flexible robots. A video of one design being investigated by researchers at SINTEF a technology institute in Norway, is one example.

Here's to the ESA, NASA, JPL and other space agencies working to develop these smart bots. Heaps of planetary landscapes will mow be open to explore and exciting discoveries to be made, perhaps even some of a biological nature.



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