The European Space Agency is considering the possibility of sending a snake robot to Mars. ABC News reports on Sept. 16 that SINTEF researchers are experimenting with the idea. Snakes would provide better maneuverability on the planet by accessing more places.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is putting together plans for a rover that would include a snake robot. The robot could disengage from the rest of the rover and explore Mars by being able to reach more areas. The snake robot would remain attached to the rover through a cable.
Researchers are considering the option of turning one of the rover’s arms into a detachable snake robot. Other ideas include making the robot an extra tool located on top or at the bottom of the rover. The study is still in the early stages, so the design concepts can change. SINTEF explains it will take several months for the initial research to be completed.
The snake robot could also help collect samples that can be analyzed with the rover’s tools. The mobility of a rover is limited on Mars by its size, but the addition of another robot could help overcome new obstacles.
The ESA plans to launch its ExoMars mission in 2016, and the ExoMars rover is expected to land in 2018. NASA is planning its own mission in 2020. It is possible that one or both of the rovers could rely on a snake robot.