Robotic Dogs designed to Explore Hard to Access Caves in Mars

Popularly known as Mars Dogs, these robotic dogs have similarities with the real ones. A good example is a fact that the two are four-legged. Away from that, what’s the inspiration behind the design of the Mars Dogs? They are designed to explore even the roughest terrains of Mars that other spacecraft may not have been able to reach before. Their design must be unique, or else they may not access those areas just like the other rovers that have been there. The robotic dogs will explore Martian caves, which are quite deep pyroducts left behind by flowing lava from volcanic eruptions.

Their focus will be identifying sites suitable for buildings if humans ever go to stay there. Equally important, they will be on the lookout to see if there are signs of life by that time or even before then. Designers and developers have an idea of the Martian terrain. Its surface has large boulders, deep pits, and high inclines. Consequently, the design is in such a way that they adapt to the place perfectly.

It is no secret that wheeled rovers are likely to tip over if the surface is not flat. That’s probably why it has been hard for all the rovers that landed on Mars before to explore the caves. After all, there are high chances that the caves are not flat. Besides, they are lava tubes hence alleviated than the normal land. Therefore if rovers were to land on Mars, they could have to climb up, taking years. In addition to the long journey, problems might not end upon arriving. The cave’s entrances are quite steep. The walls are also a hindrance to communication between the rovers and the scientists on Earth.

That’s where the Mars Dogs come in. They are robotic and smart enough to navigate the rough terrain and also carry out the mission without communicating with the scientists. Courtesy of the California Institution of Technology, in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the robotic dogs are artificially intelligent. They will withstand the Martian surface since the testing ground, Lava Beds Navigation in Northern California, has similar terrain.

The Mars Dogs’ speed is 5 km per hour, which means that they are way better than even the Curiosity rover of 2012. The comparison of the two shows that the former is 38 times faster than the latter. These robots will use an algorithm that keeps them upright, but if they topple, it will also manage to recover.

Since the scientists will be sending a pack, all the Mars Dogs will be able to work together for the success of their mission. Besides the tethering system, they will also have a robotic arm for interaction with the environment.