Mars exploration is going to the dogs. The robot dogs, that is.
Scientists are equipping four-legged, animal-mimicking robots with artificial intelligence (AI) and an array of sensing equipment to help the bots autonomously navigate treacherous terrain and subsurface caves on the Red Planet.
In a presentation on Dec. 14 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), held online this year, researchers with NASA/JPL-Caltech introduced their “Mars Dogs,” which can maneuver in ways the iconic wheeled rovers such as Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity and the recently launched Perseverance never could. The new robots’ agility and resilience are coupled with sensors that allow them to avoid obstacles, choose between multiple paths and build virtual maps of buried tunnels and caverns for operators at home base, scientists said at AGU.