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Center Innovation Fund: GRC CIF

Vibrational Locomotion Enabling Subsurface Exploration of Unconsolidated Regolith

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Proposed effort is to use vibration to propel a small, self-contained device through unconsolidated (loose, granular) material, such as regolith. Small scale robotic devices that can penetrate, and be mobile within, the regolith depth would offer unique opportunities.

The idea of vibrational locomotion is based on vibrational-fluidization in ISRU reactor systems, which has proven very effective for regolith mixing. The vibrating device would essentially vibro-fluidize the local regolith surrounding it, reducing the local bulk density. With proper design (size, shape, weight) the device could gradually sink into the regolith. Vibration is also used in industrial digging applications as a supplement to a constant forward force. The vibration helps to reduce friction between the soil and the digging tool. Including a percussive motion to the proposed device would produce such a downward force and mimic industrial techniques.

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Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)