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Family of cliff-climbing Robots by NASA

 We use the word “Robot” today to mean any man-made machine that can perform work or other actions normally performed by humans, either automatically or by remote control.

Most robots today are used to do repetitive actions or jobs considered too dangerous for humans. A robot is ideal for going into a building that has a possible bomb. Robots are also used in factories to build things like cars, candy bars, and electronics. Robots are now used in medicine, for military tactics, for finding objects underwater and to explore other planets.

Why NASA needs Robots?

Mountains and cliffs are among the most tantalizing spaces on Mars or any other rocky planet. The problem? Martian rovers like Curiosity and the upcoming Mars 2020 rover are limited by how much terrain they can cover with wheels.

To get to the highest peaks, NASA needs to climb. And for that, the Agency is developing technology gleaned from its experiments with a four-limbed robot named Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot, or LEMUR for short

cliff-climbing Robots by NASA
cliff-climbing Robots by NASA

These newer climbing robots are being built for specific ecosystems. The RoboSimian, for example, is designed to explore the silty, icy world of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, where geysers could burst through the frozen surface at any time.

To match the challenges, RoboSimian builds on LEMUR’s climbing abilities with versatility; it can “walk on four legs, crawl, move like an inchworm and slide on its belly like a penguin,” NASA says in a press statement.

Some planets and moons might require a lighter touch than the large RoboSimian, which was recently able to drive a car. For icy mountains, the IceWorm might be a better fit.

Standing approximately 4.5 tall, the Ice-worm can handle difficult terrain with a USDC that helps it imitate inchworms. The Ice-worm could be a good fit on Europa, where icy spikes upward of 50 feet tall can be found.

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