Robots always do the heavy-lifting when it comes to space explorations, and that’s not changing anytime soon.
NASA has been one of the forefronts of space exploration ever since the early 1900s. Today, much anticipation surrounds one of Saturn’s moon called Titan. It is believed to have a high possibility of supporting water thus having high probability of once supporting life if not in the future.
However, the environment in Titan composed of frigid temperatures, cryovolcanoes, caves, and lakes and seas- and rain– of liquid hydrocarbons. In that environment, most rovers invented will not hold up.
Introducing shapeshifter bots NASA calls ‘cobots’ these bots can fly, roll on the ground, and swim while submerged. This makes Shapeshifter well-suited and adaptable to explore Saturn’s moon.
In a press release, Robotics technologist Ali Agha is JPL’s principal Investigator for Shapeshifter says, “We have very limited information about the composition of the surface Rocky terrain, methane lakes, cryovolcanoes – we potentially have all of these, but we don’t know for certain. So we thought about how to create a system that is versatile and capable of traversing different types of terrain but also compact enough to launch on a rocket.”
Stanford and Cornell university are a few of the academe that’s helping with the project surrounding cobots.
It’s too soon to say if Shapeshifter or something like it will be the next planned mission to Titan. But this is indeed a step forward in advancing further into the depths of the cosmos.