Propulsion Mechanism for a Lunar Subterranean Excavator Using Peristaltic Crawling
Hiroyuki Kitamoto, Hayato Omori, Hiroaki Nagai,
Taro Nakamura, Hisashi Osumi, and Takashi Kubota
Department of Precision Mechanics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Chuo University, 1-13-27 Kasuga, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-8551, Japan
Exploration below the lunar surface has great potential for scientific progress and the future of space explanation. However, as of now, little is known about the environment of the lunar subsurface, but the international space community has plans to explore it. The development of an excavator that can perform underground investigations has been needed, so we have developed one with a peristaltic crawling mechanism. The robot consists of propulsion and excavation units. The propulsion unit consists of three propulsion subunits which together form the peristaltic crawling mechanism. The excavation unit has an earth auger to dig up and transport soil. In this study, we propose a new type of propulsion subunit. It has a belt drive system to facilitate the smooth movement of the propulsion subunits, and it enables the robot to support three subunits. We also perform experiments in which the excavation robot burrows into red soil to depths of up to 600 mm.
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