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NASA’s Shapeshifter: Mini robots to explore distant Saturn’s Moon

Moupiya Dutta
Moupiya Dutta
She finds it interesting to learn and analyze society. she keeps herself updated, emphasizing technology, social media, and science. She loves to pen down her thoughts, interested in music, art, and exploration around the globe.

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According to NASA a transformer collection of mini-robots called Shapeshifter is under testing mode at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It is a collection of mini-robots that can form one machine or act independently.

NASA Shapeshifting robot is a novel system concept which is capable of mobility including rolling on a smooth surface, flying in the atmosphere, navigating subsurface voids (ex. caves), floating on a lake surface and propelling under an ocean for all-access and cross-domain mobility on bodies with atmospheres.

Shapeshifter is a flying amphibious robot (FAR). Shapeshifter morphs into other functional systems to carry out a diverse set of tasks. Examples like transporting large and heavy objects, traversing long distances with minimal power consumption, creating communication networks to communicate to surface from deep hard-to-access areas.

NASA Shapeshifting robot is a initiative that is intended to head to Saturn’s moon Titan, which is the only place within our solar system that is known to have liquid in the form of rivers, methane lakes, and seas that are on its surface, according to Ali Agha, the principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

On Wednesday, NASA shared a look at a 3D-printed prototype Shapeshifter describing it as “a contraption that looks like a drone encased in an elongated hamster wheel.”

Such an intriguing concept is proposed to be submitted to NASA’s Advanced Concepts​ Initiative in 2020. But it may take some more years until it arrives with another NASA’s spacecraft known as Dragonfly that is scheduled to launch in 2026.


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