European Space Agency Considering Using Snake Robot to Explore Mars

Posted on September 18, 2013

Wheeko snake robot from SINTEF


The European Space Agency (ESA) is reportedly considering using a snake robot to explore Mars. SINTEF, an independent research organisation in Scandinavia, says they are carrying out a concept study for the ESA to determine whether a snake robot could be the answer the to an ESA request for robots that have greater mobility and maneuverability for space exploration. SINTEF's snake bot called Wheeko is pictured above.

Aksel Transeth at SINTEF ICT, says, "We are looking at several alternatives to enable a rover and a robot to work together. Since the rover has a powerful energy source, it can provide the snake robot with power through a cable extending between the rover and the robot. If the robot had to use its own batteries, it would run out of power and we would lose it. One option is to make the robot into one of the vehicle's arms, with the ability to disconnect and reconnect itself, so that it can be lowered to the ground, where it can crawl about independently."

The researchers say a snake robot could also be located on top of a rover. Here is a video of Wheeko moving on a classroom floor from 2011:



Photo: SINTEF/Thor Nielsen