NASA believes that caves are a key to provide them with answers in regards to whether there is any sort of life on other planets or not. Keeping this in mind, a team of developers has integrated artificial intelligence and autonomy on an actual robot.

Here’s when Boston Dynamics Spot Robot comes into the frame with its unique features.

A robot must possess stability to move on rugged terrain while equipping science instruments. The Spot robot is well versed with these features and includes the required endurance and speed for mapping through caves. The Spot robot can explore caves anonymously while communicating a 3D map back to the base station.

Accompanied with two other legged robots, the Spot crew shares pictures, location information, returns biofilm samples, excellent quality images, and anything worth interest to the base.

What is Au-Spot, aka the “Mars dog”?

Before astronauts set foot on Mars, scientists must learn everything they can about the planet’s hostile environment. While the many exploration vehicles that have been sent out over the years have provided researchers with vital data, the cumbersome robots are limited to investigating flat terrain around their landing locations.

This excludes many scientifically intriguing Martian locations that can only be reached by overcoming rugged terrain or falling below ground level. NASA’s project aims to alter that by training a new crew of explorers – nimble robotic canines or space robots that can navigate the Red Planet’s hazardous topography and underground caverns unaided.

Au-Spot, also called the Autonomous Spot, is a refined version of Boston Dynamics’ world-famous Spot robot, which has performed various dangerous duties on Earth, including assistance of coronavirus patients remotely. The four-legged machines can trot at speeds of up to 3 miles (5 kilometers) per hour, about 38 times quicker than the Curiosity rover, which has been wandering Mars since 2012.

Researches state that Spot Robots can also travel great distances over challenging terrain and recover quickly from falls. The crew said, “Toppling does not imply mission failure.” “The robot can self-right from a variety of falls using recovery algorithms.” Artificial intelligence will be used by the “Mars dogs” to avoid barriers, pick between numerous pathways, and identify scientifically exciting items.

They will use data from a built-in laser, visual, thermal, and motion detectors to create detailed 3D maps of underground tunnels and lava tube caverns. A communication module will ensure that all data collected is sent to the mission crew on Earth promptly.

What differentiates the Spot Robot from the others?

There are loads of exciting features about Spot. Spot has five stereo cameras: two across the front, on either side, and one on the back, all of which have global shutters and high contrast image sensors built into the device. Spot robot’s capabilities include considering anything taller than 30 cm to be a barrier, which he avoids or walks around.

NASA researchers have researched a robotic arm and anchoring system that will allow many “Mars dogs” to delve into underground tunnels and lava tubes. There isn’t much revealed about the Spot arm other than it can easily climb and descend rocky or uneven surfaces.

About the Mars exploration project

Other than Au-Spot, several other robots will be put together as a team to explore Mars in place of humans. SpaceBok was created mainly to see if dynamic movement in zero gravity is possible. Sandy slopes or rough terrain may be addressed with precise foot placements, and more energetically efficient gaits can be used for long-range missions.

Since the robots will be deployed to Mars, they need to get used to areas or terrains similar to the Red planet. Through cave explorations, according to the experts, signs of past or present Martian life may be detected.

More significantly, knowing their specific positions may benefit human explorers seeking refuge from the Red Planet’s lethal UV radiation, harsh cold, and violent dust storm. These may persist for weeks and are occasionally large enough to be seen by telescopes from the Earth. So, using caves found on Earth as the practice allows the robots to familiarise themselves with similar terrain.

Other than SpaceBok, there are other bots like the soft burrowing robots exploring the underground. Soft burrowing robot researchers have developed gadgets that can be used to examine various settings, from the air to the sea. Soft robots are also capable of operating on dry terrain.

Plants and animals that evolved to explore underground regions inspired the robot’s designers.

As NASA prepares to send robots into space, we may discover new terrain and numerous other information regarding the barren Red Planet. Therefore, NASA continues to train Au-Spot and other robots responsible for searching for all kinds of information and data.