IJAT Vol.10 No.4 pp. 584-590
doi: 10.20965/ijat.2016.p0584


Concept of Inflatable Outer Wheel Rover for Exploration of Lunar and Planetary Holes and Subsurface Caverns

Katsushi Furutani

Department of Advanced Science and Technology, Toyota Technological Institute
12-1 Hisakata 2-chome, Tempaku-ku, Nagoya 468-8511, Japan

Corresponding author,

December 29, 2015
March 22, 2016
July 5, 2016
rover, inflatable structure, outer wheel, climbable step height, climbable slope angle

Three huge vertical holes have been found on the Moon and their scientific explorations are planned by the UZUME (Unprecedented Zipangu (Japan) Underworld of the Moon Exploration) Project. For such explorations, a rover with large wheels is preferred for climbing over bumps. However, the exhaust materials from landers or rovers should be avoided to prevent contamination of the terrain. This paper proposes a rover with inflatable tubes that function as outer wheels. A prototype with one degree of freedom was built. The inflatable wheel was 1000 mm in diameter and 400 mm in width, and weighed 2.0 kg. A small cart, which was used as a weight, was moved on the torus to revolute the rover. Each cart weighed 0.5 kg. The performance of the rover was tested and compared with the calculated results. The climbable step height and slope angle were statistically calculated and were independent of gravity. The climbable step height and slope angle were 15 mm and 9°, and they almost agreed with the calculated results.

Cite this article as:
K. Furutani, “Concept of Inflatable Outer Wheel Rover for Exploration of Lunar and Planetary Holes and Subsurface Caverns,” Int. J. Automation Technol., Vol.10, No.4, pp. 584-590, 2016.
Data files:
  1. [1] J. Haruyama, K. Hioki, M. Shirao, T. Morota, H. Hiesinger, C. H. van der Bogert, H. Miyamoto, A. Iwasaki, Y. Yokota, M. Ohtake, T. Matsunaga, S. Hara, S. Nakanotani, and C. M. Pieters, “Possible lunar lava tube skylight observed by SELENE cameras,” Geophys. Res. Lett., Vol.36, L21206, November, 2009.
  2. [2] J. Haruyama, T. Morota, S. Kobayashi, S. Sawai, P. G. Lucey, M. Shirao, and M. N. Nishino, “Lunar Holes and Lava Tubes as Resources for Lunar Science and Exploration,” in V. Badescu, Eds. Moon – Prospective Energy and Material Resources, Berlin, Germany: Springer, pp. 139-164, 2012.
  3. [3] T. Yoshimitsu, M. Ootsuka, T. Kubota, and I. Nakatani, “Semi-Autonomous Telescience System for Planetary Exploration Rover,” J. Rob. Mechatron., Vol.12, No.4, pp. 432-437, August, 2000.
  4. [4] N. Yoshioka, “Mission-Task Support Aspects of Planetary Rover for Surface Analysis,” J. Rob. Mechatron., Vol.12, No.4, pp. 438-442, August, 2000.
  5. [5] S. Hirose and H. Kuwabara, “Design of Three-wheeled Planetary Rover Tri-StarII,” J. Rob. Mechatron., Vol.12, No.4, pp. 446-452, August, 2000.
  6. [6] K. Tadakuma, M. Matsumoto, and S. Hirose, “Mechanical Design and Basic Run Experiments with the Tri-StarIII – Horizontal Polyarticular Expandable 3-Wheeled Planetary Rover –,” J. Rob. Mechatron., Vol.20, No.6, pp. 887-895, December, 2008.
  7. [7] V. Asnani, C. Creager, and D. Delap, “The development of wheels for the Lunar Roving Vehicle,” J. Terramechanics, Vol.46, pp. 89-103, June, 2009.
  8. [8] N. Patel, R. Slade, and J. Clemmet, “The ExoMars rover locomotion subsystem,” J. Terramechanics, Vol.47, pp. 227-242, August, 2010.
  9. [9] K. Iizuka, T. Sasaki, H. Hama, A. Nishitani, T. Kubota, and I. Nakatani, “Development of a Small, Lightweight Rover with Elastic Wheels for Lunar Exploration,” J. Rob. Mechatron., Vol.24, No.6, pp. 1031-1039, December, 2012.
  10. [10] M. Sutoh, J. Yusa, T. Ito, K. Nagatani, and K. Yoshida, “Traveling Performance Evaluation of Planetary Rovers on Loose Soil,” J. Field Robot., Vol.29, pp. 648-662, July, 2012.
  11. [11] H. Nakashima, A. Oida, H. Shimizu, J. Miyasaka, K. Ohdoi, H. Fujii, M. Momozu, H. Kanamori, S. Aoki, and T. Yokoyama, “Discrete element method analysis of single wheel performance for a small lunar rover on sloped terrain,” J. Terramechanics, Vol.47, pp. 307-321, October, 2010.
  12. [12] K. Iizuka, T. Sasaki, S. Suzuki, T. Kawamura, and T. Kubota, “Study on grouser mechanism to directly detect sinkage of wheel during traversing loose soil for lunar exploration rovers,” Robomech J., Vol.1, No.15, October, 2014.
  13. [13] F. Kustas, S. Rawal, T. Charies, and W. Chun, “Inflatable Tires for Planetary Rover Vehicle,” Proc. 41st Struct. Structural Dyn. Mater. Conf.Exibitt, Atlanta, GA, USA, AIAA-2000-1821, April, 2000.
  14. [14] J. A. Jones, “Inflatable robotics for planetary applications,” Proc. 6th Int. Symp. Artificial Intelligence, Rob. Autom. in Space, Montreal, Canada, June, 2001.
  15. [15] R. Suzuki, F. Kamagata, S. Aoyama, H. Tsunoda, and T. Yoshimitsu, “Construction Method of Inflatable Wheel Using Three-Dimensional Shape Forming of Engineering Plastic Film,” Proc. 56th Space Sci. Technol. Conf., Beppu, Oita, Japan, 3O08, November, 2012 (in Japanese).
  16. [16] J. Stein, C. Sandy, D. Wilson, G. Sharpe, and C. Knoll, “Recent Developments in Inflatable Airbag Impact Attenuation Systems for Mars Exploration,” Proc. 44th AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Struct., Structural Dyn. Mater. Conf., Norfolk, VA, USA, April, 2003, DOI: 10.2514/6.2003-1900.
  17. [17] K. Oka, Y. Toshino, M. Ohmata, and S. Kitamura, “Development of outer wheel type vehicle for rough terrain,” Proc. Robotics & Mechatronics Conf., Nagoya, Japan, 2A1-H-24, May, 2004 (in Japanese).
  18. [18] A. Koshiyama, K. Fujii, and K. Arita, “Development and Motion Control of an All-Direction Steering-type Mobile Robot: 4th Report, Mechanisms, Motion Principle, Control Methods and Experimental Results of a Stand-alone Spherical-wheeled Robot,” Trans. Jpn. Soc. Mech. Engr., Series C, Vol.62, No.602, pp. 3797-3801, October, 1996 (in Japanese).
  19. [19] T. Mitarai and K. Ono, “Simulation Study of Rhonrad Mechanism,” Trans. Jpn. Soc. Mech. Engr., Series C, Vol.69, No.680, pp. 837-843, April, 2003 (in Japanese).
  20. [20] R. Christoffersen, J. F. Lindsay, S. K. Noble, M. A. Meador, J. J. Kosmo, J. A. Lawrence, L. Brostoff, A. Young, and T. McCue, “Lunar dust effects on space suit systems: Insights from the Apollo spacesuits,” NASA Technical Report, NASA/TP-2009-214786, 2009.
  21. [21] J. E. Bares and D. S. Wettergreen, “Dante II: Technical description, results, and lessons learned,” Int. J. Rob. Res., Vol.18, No.7, pp. 621-649 July, 1999.
  22. [22] J. B. Matthews and I. A. Nesnas, “On the design of the axel and duaxel rovers for extreme terrain exploration,” Proc. 2012 IEEE Aerospace Conf., pp. 1-10, March, 2012.
  23. [23] S. Shigeto, S. Sugimura, M. Otsuki, and T. Kubota, “Control and Mobility of a Novel Wired Exploration Robot for Vertical Hole on the Moon,” Proc. 2014 Int. Sympo. Artif. Intell., Rob. Autom. Space (i-SAIRAS 2014), September, 2014.
  24. [24] J. Walker, K. Yoshida, N. Britton, and M. Seo, “Dual Rover Robotic Mission Architecture for Exploration of a Potential Lava Tube Skylight on the Lunar Surface Session,” Proc. 65th Int. Astronautical Cong., Tronto, Canada, IAC-14,A3,2B,8,x21167, September, 2014.
  25. [25] B. Stenning, L. Bajin, C. Robson, V. Peretroukhin, G. R. Osinski, and T. D. Barfoot, “Towards Autonomous Mobile Robots for the Exploration of Steep Terrain,” Field and Service Robotics, Vol.105, Pt.II, pp. 33-47, 2015.
  26. [26] K. Furutani, E. Ikeda, T. Okada, K. Saiki, and H. Ohue, “Prototype Design of Wire-sawing Machine for Preliminary Experiments to Lunar and Planetary Exploration,” Mater. Sci. Forum (Advances in Materials and Processing Technologies XV), Vol.773-774, pp. 392-399, November, 2013.
  27. [27] K. Furutani and K. Suzuki, “Experimental Investigations of Deposition Conditions for Saw Wire Fabrication by Electrical Discharge Machining,” Int. J. Adv. Manuf. Technol., Vol.76, pp. 1643-1651, February, 2015.

*This site is desgined based on HTML5 and CSS3 for modern browsers, e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, IE9,10,11, Opera.

Last updated on Dec. 13, 2018