We are exploring potential applications of our jumping microrobots in space. While our 1.9x1.2x0.06cm robot has previously jumped 3mm (and can theoretically achieve 3cm or much more) in Earth gravity, the same actuator would reach escape velocity in the 6 micro-g gravity of the Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) Bennu, the target of NASAs current OSIRIS-REx sample return mission. This implies it is possible to build a thousand-robot swarm of 1cm^3 1g robot capable of hopping around and measuring an NEA. This is useful because such a swarm is simultaneously lighter (by orders of magnitude) and more capable (because it can contact the surface, with the swarm size insuring against broken robots or unexpected terrain) than any currently proposed probe or rover, and thus enables low-cost exploration of NEAs (which are too small to observe sufficiently via Earth telescope) for in-situ resource utilization and asteroid mining.
Project ended: 05/01/2021