LEAP's four-legged robots, trained with artificial intelligence, will move along the surface of the Moon, as will the astronauts of the Apollo mission. Today Patrick Bambah presented an update at the 2022 Europlanetary Science Congress in Granada on these machines, whose purpose is to study one of the most complex lunar landscapes.
The purpose of LEAP is the Aristarch Plateau, the region of the Moon, which is particularly rich in geological features but is very difficult to access. By the way, the name of the LEAP robot is deciphered as Legged Explosion of the Aristarchus Plateau or "Aristarch Plateau leg study".
By means of a robot, scientists can explore the geological history and evolution of the Moon by examining emissions around craters, fresh asteroid impact sites and lava tubes where mountain rocks have not changed as a result of "space weathering" and other processes.
The LEAP team is working to integrate the robot into the European large logistical landing module of ESA, which is scheduled to land several times on the Moon from the late 2020s until the early 2030s.
"Traditional circulators have made great discoveries on the Moon and Mars, but they have limitations," Bambah explained. "Researching the area with loose soil, large boulders or slopes of more than 15 degrees is particularly difficult for rugs with wheels. For example, the mission of the Spirit jockey was stopped when it was stuck in the sand."
AnYmal can travel in different "steels", allowing it to travel long distances in a short period of time, climb steep slopes, use scientific tools, and even recover in case of unlikely fall. A robot can also use its legs to dig channels in the soil, turn boulders or smaller stones for further examination and take samples.
The robot was initially trained using a virtual reinforcement approach to simulate lunar terrain, gravity and dust properties, and was also used in the field for outdoor activities.