Multirobot cliff climbing on low-gravity environments

Himangshu Kalita, Jekan Thangavelautham

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

10 Scopus citations


Exploration of extreme environments, including caves, canyons and cliffs on low-gravity surfaces such as the Moon, Mars and asteroids can provide insight into the geological history of the solar system, origins of water, life and prospect for future habitation and resource exploitation. Current methods of exploration utilize large rovers that are unsuitable for exploring these extreme environments. In this work, we analyze the feasibility of small, low-cost, reconfigurable multirobot systems to climb steep cliffs and canyon walls. Each robot is a 30-cm sphere covered in microspines for gripping onto rugged surfaces and attaches to several robots using a spring-Tether. Even if one robot were to slip and fall, the system would be held up with multiple attachment points much like a professional alpine climber. We analyzed and performed detailed simulations of the design configuration space to identify an optimal system design that trades-off climbing performance with risk of falling. Our results show that with increased number of robots, climbs can be performed faster (through parallelism) and with less risk of falling. The results show a pathway towards demonstration of the system on real robots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2017 NASA/ESA Conference on Adaptive Hardware and Systems, AHS 2017
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781538634394
StatePublished - Sep 19 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event2017 NASA/ESA Conference on Adaptive Hardware and Systems, AHS 2017 - Pasadena, United States
Duration: Jul 24 2017Jul 27 2017

Publication series

Name2017 NASA/ESA Conference on Adaptive Hardware and Systems, AHS 2017


Conference2017 NASA/ESA Conference on Adaptive Hardware and Systems, AHS 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • adaptation
  • climbing
  • extreme environment
  • multirobot system
  • reconfigurability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Instrumentation


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