Science and TechSpace


This Small Robot Could Change The Way We Explore Other Planets

The Puffer robot can tuck its wheels and fit into places a rover can't.
Posted at 2:44 PM, Mar 30, 2017

The Mars rovers might get a buddy on the Red Planet someday.

NASA has unveiled Puffer — a robot that can tuck its wheels to flatten itself to fit in spaces a bulky rover can't.

Puffer's been in field testing for over a year and a half. The team has made prototypes climb steep slopes and drop from several meters in the air without breaking.

Puffer can also handle extreme temperatures — researchers took it to Antarctica and the Mojave Desert in California.

As for the next step? The Puffer team wants to make the bot bigger, get it to take samples of its environment and even give it autonomy to do things without the help of humans.

The purpose of all this is to one day get the mini rolling robot into outer space to help the rovers better explore planets.

Who knows, maybe one day the Curiosity rover won't have to celebrate its birthday all alone.