ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen has successfully driven and manipulated an Earth-based rover whilst orbiting at a height of 400 km (249 miles) aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The control system used a sophisticated form of force-feedback that allowed Mogensen to determine when the rover's robotic arm met resistance. The technology has the potential to be used in a number of roles both in space and back on Earth, possibly taking human workers out of harms way.
Should we ever want to set up any sort of base or colony on Mars, it's inevitably going to require water to support life, but transporting enough liquids to the Red Planet is likely to be impractical. With NASA and others planning manned Mars missions, a team based in Singapore is already working on a specialized Martian rover that could be used to "mine" for water below the planet's crimson surface.
developed for ESA's next generation of ExoMars rover could soon be put
to work saving lives in a more terrestrial setting. GMV, an ESA
partner in rover development, is designing a robot to be used in the
gas and oil industry. It's a move which could mitigate some of the
human risk inherent with labor in the sector.
NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program has advanced to its second phase, green-lighting a series of futuristic technological concepts for further agency-backed development. The program's chief objective is to foster clever ideas that help shape future aerospace exploration and, with interstellar submarines and swarms of tiny satellites, it offers a mind boggling picture of what future space travel might look like.
Could the first private lunar rover be an Audi? The car maker has announced a partnership with one of the teams competing for the Google-sponsored Lunar XPrize – the Part-Time Scientists. Audi will provide technical expertise in building an unmanned rover that aims to set down in the vicinity of the Apollo 17 landing site in 2017.
The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts NIAC program has announced 15 phase I winners in its quest to make science fiction science fact. The aim of the program is to encourage the innovation of ideas with the potential to transform future aerospace and exploration operations, but more importantly, it grants us a tantalizing and often fantastical glimpse of what the future may hold.