Robot dog trained to explore Mars like never before
Meet "Au-Spot"

Robot dog trained to explore Mars like never before

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - January 13, 2021 - 11:21am

MANILA, Philippines — Dogs are man’s best friend even on Mars.

During the December 2020 meeting of the American Geophysical Union, researchers with NASA/JPL-Caltech presented "Mars Dogs," or autonomous, four-legged robots trained to navigate Mars in a way that their predecessor rovers never could.



“Toppling does not mean mission failure... Using recovery algorithms, the robot can self-right from a multitude of falls,” the scientists said during their presentation.

The canine endearingly named “Au-Spot” is based on “Spot,” the invention of robotics company Boston Dynamics that we witnessed grow up with new tricks over the years.

Au-Spot is equipped with artificial intelligence and sensors that enable it to produce virtual three-dimensional maps, avoid damage from obstacles and choose between multiple pathways.

The Mars Dog is much lighter and faster than existing rovers. Moreover, its specifications make it the ideal candidate to explore Martian caves, which rovers are not designed to survive.



A team of more than 60 minds at CoSTAR, or the Collaborative SubTerranean Autonomous Resilient Robots, gave birth to Au-Spot.

A Spot unit was modified with the NeBula (Networked Belief-aware Perceptual Autonomy) system, allowing it “to address various technical challenges across multiple domains in autonomous exploration of extreme environments."

"These behaviors could one day enable revolutionary scientific missions to take place on the Martian surface and subsurface, thereby pushing the boundaries of NASA's capability in exploring traditionally inaccessible sites,” the researchers said.

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