What would it take to put a walking robot on the moon?
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Posted 08 May 2010 - 10:04 AM
A humanoid robot could be walking on the moon – and drawing the Japanese flag on its surface – by 2015, according to a plan proposed by a group of Japanese companies. Experts say wheeled or many-legged robots would be easier to operate on the moon's uneven terrain, but backers of the proposal say a two-legged android would make a bigger splash in the public imagination.
The plan was announced last week by a small cooperative of companies in Osaka called Astro-Technology SOHLA, which launched a small satellite called Maido-1 to study lightning in January 2009.
The group hopes that its robot, dubbed Maido-kun, could hitch a ride to the moon with a robotic mission set to be launched by the Japanese space agency JAXA in about five years, according to the Daily Yomiuri newspaper.
The newspaper said that JAXA had previously opted against sending a bipedal robot to the moon because its footing would not be steady on the sandy lunar surface. But SOHLA president Hideo Sugimoto countered that a walking robot would be more inspiring than a wheeled rover, adding that Maido-kun would draw the Japanese flag on the moon's surface.
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