Hedgehog Robots Hop, Tumble in Microgravity

'Hedgehog' Robots Hop, Tumble in Microgravity While a Mars rover can't operate upside down, the Hedgehog robot can function regardless of which side lands up. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Stanford)
While a Mars rover can’t operate upside down, the Hedgehog robot can function regardless of which side lands up. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Stanford)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Hopping, tumbling and flipping over are not typical maneuvers you would expect from a spacecraft exploring other worlds. Traditional Mars rovers, for example, roll around on wheels, and they can’t operate upside-down. But on a small body, such as an asteroid or a comet, the low-gravity conditions and rough surfaces make traditional driving all the more hazardous.

Enter Hedgehog: a new concept for a robot that is specifically designed to overcome the challenges of traversing small bodies. The project is being jointly developed by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California; Stanford University in Stanford, California; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

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