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NASA Robots in the Canadian North

Samuel Bouchard
by Samuel Bouchard. Last updated on Jan 29, 2015 10:25 AM
Posted on Nov 14, 2007 5:38 PM. 2 min read time

nasa devon

Last July, I would have loved to have spent a few weeks’ vacation on Devon Isle, Nunavut, in Canada’s great north. “Are you kidding?”, you ask? Not at all. I wanted to see NASA’s two K-10 robots wheeling around in Haughton Crater. They chose this meteoric crater at 75 degrees N latitude to try out their robots on account of its resemblance to a lunar landscape, particularly Shackleton Crater at the lunar south pole.

I learned this from Terry Fong, Director of NASA’s Intelligent Robotics Group during his presentation at RoboDevelopment07 (see my article summarizing the conference on service robotics). The Earth crater faithfully mimics its lunar counterpart from an operational (isolation, remote control, etc.) as well as a scientific perspective (size, structure, etc.) They visited the crater to acquire expertise on isolated robotic operations and on the systematic study of a site with two robots.

From July 10 to August 3, Black and Red (the two K-10s) traveled around the crater, one with a LIDAR (supplied by the Canadian company, Optech), the other with a ground-penetrating radar to learn of its composition. The whole operation was transmitted live on Google Earth.

At the presentation, they showed the robots in action and what their sensors acquired. See some more robot pictures.

This wasn’t the first time the area was visited to simulate extra-terrestrial operations. In 2000, volunteers from the Mars Society built Flashline Station to simulate an inhabited base on the Red Planet.

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Samuel Bouchard
Written by Samuel Bouchard
Samuel is CEO and co-founder of Robotiq. His mission is to free human hands from repetitive tasks. He is also the author of Lean Robotics: A Guide to Making Robots Work in Your Factory. He lives in Québec City with his wife and four children.
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