Engineers train dog robot to walk on Moon

A collaborative team spanning NASA, Texas A&M University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Temple University, and the University of Pennsylvania has secured a $2 million grant for the two-year LASSIE (Legged Autonomous Surface Science in Analog Environments) Project, aimed at preparing NASA for lunar surface exploration.

Spearheaded by cognitive scientist Cristina Wilson, the project employs Spirit, a robot undergoing training to navigate the moon’s rugged terrain, currently tested on Oregon’s Mount Hood.

Wilson emphasizes the project’s focus on human-robot collaboration, crucial for forthcoming planetary missions where humans and robots will work in tandem. The LASSIE initiative anticipates this collaboration, exploring optimal strategies for data collection during planetary exploration.

Spirit’s training involves adapting to diverse terrains, mirroring human capability to traverse varied surfaces seamlessly, from rocky to soft ground. The robot’s leg sensors detect mechanical resistance with each step, providing insights into planetary surface dynamics and formation.

The interdisciplinary LASSIE team, including NASA experts and university researchers, aims to enhance NASA’s lunar exploration capabilities through coordinated robot teams. With a mission to advance both robotic and human exploration, the project holds promise for future lunar missions.