Watch NASA's New Origami-Inspired Rover in Action

Tuesday, 14 March 2017 - 3:59PM
Technology
NASA
Robotics
Tuesday, 14 March 2017 - 3:59PM
Watch NASA's New Origami-Inspired Rover in Action
Image credit: NASA Video Archives
We would love to see NASA's bipedal robonauts walking around foreign planets and searching for life, but if we're going to be realistic, we would say the first explorers of other worlds are going to look a lot more like Curiosity. One thing we didn't expect was that they might turn out like PUFFER.

Tiny, simple, and lightweight, the PUFFER (short for "Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot") is a little robot that can fold itself to fit into small spaces while exploring extraterrestrial landscapes. Check it out!



According to the NASA/JPL page for the PUFFER project:

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PUFFER is an origami-inspired robot concept that would provide future NASA missions with simple, low-cost access to new high-value extreme terrains. Example terrains could include caves and lava tubes on Mars, or icy "chaos terrains" on the surface of Europa. These terrains pose significant mobility challenges that may be easier to surmount with a multitude of small, low-cost notional PUFFERs. The PUFFER concept would have a lightweight, collapsible body that would fold into a very small volume onboard a "parent" spacecraft, such as a larger Mars rover or a Europa lander. PUFFER's small size and low cost would allow the parent spacecraft to carry a large number of notional PUFFERs, stacked away in a small enclosure.
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