Shape Morphing Microbots for Planetary Exploration

Rachel Moses, Himangshu Kalita, Jekanthan Thangavelautham

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


NASA has expressed a demand for new explorative robotic technology as the search for previously habitable environments progresses. Exploration, utilizing one or few rovers may restrict the scouting range causing a lack of discovery of hidden environments. Current planetary robotic systems contain single robots that have rigid and prebuilt components. All of which have high launch costs and are incapable of exploring extremely rugged environments. Utilizing innovative and low-cost inflatable robot technologies it is possible to conceive short, low-cost, high-risk, high-reward missions. Our current work focuses on networks of cost efficient inflatable Microbots with the intent of rugged environment exploration. These robots deploy inflatables filled with regolith which vary softness allowing them to crawl over obstacles. The generic architecture of these shape-morphing Microbots has been developed and is suitable as a payload on board satellites of size 1U and above. Our future analysis points towards the feasibility of such systems being distributed in large numbers on planetary surfaces while conforming to CubeSat design specifications. The results of our present work will provide insight into the structural dependability, lead to prototype development, texting, and improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2020 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2020
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
ISBN (Electronic)9781728127347
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes
Event2020 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2020 - Big Sky, United States
Duration: Mar 7 2020Mar 14 2020

Publication series

NameIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1095-323X


Conference2020 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Shape Morphing Microbots for Planetary Exploration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this