The traversal of rough terrain is still a very demanding task for mobile robotics. In terrestrial conditions such terrains are mainly found in search & rescue scenarios with highly unstructured terrain and possibly collapsed buildings. Walking robots are the common solution for unstructured terrain, but the ability of traversing obstacles comes at a cost: high mechatronic complexity and high demands on computational power. Especially for planetary exploration this cost is too high for nowadays and near future missions. Thus the DLR “Scout” rover uses a novel compliant rimless wheel to step over obstacles. Therefore the simple system is using one fully rotational actuator per wheel only. Together with the compliant “spokes” and spine, the rover yields energy efficient, dynamic and robust locomotion in highly unstructured terrains.
The main goal of the “Scout” rover is to access areas on foreign planets that are inaccessible for current rovers, e.g. crater walls and planetary caves. Therefore the system is not only capable to traverse rocky obstacles, but is also able to “paddle” through extremely soft sand pits which would easily entrap conventional wheeled systems. On Earth, the robust system can be used to help rescue people from hazardous areas or in agricultural robotics.
For the Institute of System Dynamics and Control the system’s modularity allows for verification of optimization runs and simulations, as well as to test innovative control algorithms for planetary and terrestrial electro-mobility.
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