by Jeff and Jenn Eckert
Diggin' It at NASA
The standard formula for a NASA robot is big, intricate, and
loaded with more scientific instruments than the average physics
lab. The agency ( www.nasa.gov), however, has also been
developing a prototype diggerbot that's such a primordial worker
that you could almost have a beer and talk sports with it. The
machine — called the Regolith Advanced Surface Systems
Operations Robot (RASSOR, pronounced "razor") — is basically
designed to toil for years on end with its twin diggers, scraping
through layers of lunar soil.
RASSOR accomplishes this via counter-rotating bucket drums
that give one end enough traction to stay in place while the
other end digs about 30 cm into the soil. Its main mission would
be to pull water and ice out of the dirt, and transform the mined
chemicals into usable amounts of rocket fuel or breathing air for
astronauts. This would require it to operate 16 hours per day for
five years. With the drums positioned above the bot's main body,
it stands about 2. 5 ft tall.
A mission-ready version would weigh about 100 lb.
According to the RASSOR team, a new improved RASSOR II
should be ready for testing early next year. (See the article in this
issue by Kevin Berry that talks about RASSOR in more detail.)
RASSOR climbs a hill in a test at Kennedy Space Center.
Photo credit: NASA.
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Korean anti-bird robotic ground vehicle
Literally for the Birds
It's no secret that animals straying into the
path of airplanes constitute a serious problem.
Just ask US Airways Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger,
who was forced into the Hudson River by a flock
of geese. According to an FAA study, reported
strikes (97 percent of which involved birds)
increased from 1,804 in 1990 to 10,083 in 2011.
During that period, the related costs in civil
aviation alone came to an estimated $481 million.
So, maybe a new autonomous anti-bird vehicle
developed by the Korean Atomic Energy Group
and LIG Nex1 (an LG subsidiary) isn't as loopy as it
The six-wheeler is almost the size of a small
car and weighs in at 1.2 tons. It's bird scaring
equipment includes a sound system that emits
bird predator noises at 100 dB, built-in cameras
that can track a 12 inch bird at up to 330 yd, and
green lasers designed to scare the flying nuisances
At present, the system is being deployed only
at Korean airfields, but the company reports
considerable interest from international customers.
8 SERVO 04.2013