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Walking robot developed to explore planets independently

Walking robot developed to explore planets independently

The robust, energy-efficient SpaceClimber climbing robot is designed for missions in challenging territory. Essential parts of its structural system are the intelligent, powerful joints. Mayr Power Transmission has developed a mini brake especially designed for such a joint. It offers small dimensions and increases the robot's energy efficiency. The intention is for the robot to explore planets independently and to set up infrastructure using its gripping arms.

The robot, which resembles a praying mantis, has been created within the context of the LIMES project, which is to continue until the end of April 2016 and which is supported by the German Aerospace Centre. Thanks to its morphology and the different walking patterns for different soil conditions, it will be capable of coping with craters and boulder fields and manipulate these with its front legs. By learning from its experiences, it will be able to act in a targeted manner.

Resembling an ant, the SpaceClimber is a free-climbing robot with six legs. In its basic posture, the robot is approximately 80cm wide, 1m long and 20 cm high. It weighs approximately 25kg. The SpaceClimber reliably masters steep, asymmetric slopes with angles of up to 80%, and moves at a speed of 0.3m/s. Among the most important components promoting the immense mobility of the robot are the drives for its structural system. Therefore, intelligent, light-weight, high-performance joints with a focus on energy efficiency have been developed.

An important joint is in the upper body of the robot. If the SpaceClimber walks into an inclined wall, for example into a crater, the upper body can adapt to the surroundings and straighten up or fold down on the crater edge. Furthermore, the upper body can also straighten up, for example, to free the front legs for manipulation.

An extremely compact ROBA-stop safety brake is installed in this joint, which Mayr developed especially for this application. When the SpaceClimber walks with its upper body horizontal across an even surface, the brake reliably holds the joint in position and prevents the input and output from turning when the motor is switched off. The brake has a holding torque of 0.28Nm and only weighs 120g with an outer diameter of 40.5mm.

Mayr safety brakes work according to the fail-safe principle, which means they are closed in de-energised condition. The brakes generate the braking force through thrust springs. After current switch-off or in case of power failure, they guarantee reliable and safe holding of the device in any position.

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