Raspberry Pi Space Rover: NASA Open-sources Its Mini Mars Robot

- Sep 05, 2018-

Thanks to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's (JPL) Open Source Rover project, you can now build your own mini-version of the six-wheel Mars Curiosity rover robot.

JPL has released designs and instructions on the now Microsoft-owned GitHub for building the mini rover that presumably will be mostly Earth-bound, rather than roaming over Mars or any other planet, unless you're buddies with Elon Musk.

"We wanted to give back to the community and lower the barrier of entry by giving hands-on experience to the next generation of scientists, engineers, and programmers," said Tom Soderstrom, project sponsor for the Open Source Rover.

Fully built, the mini rover weighs 25lb (11.3kg) and will be 24-inches long and 14 inches wide with a maximum speed of 6.7 inches per second or about 0.4mph, so it won't exactly be one for fans of the faster radio-controlled cars, but is nonetheless comparatively true to the actual Curiosity rover.

The real Curiosity travels at about 98ft (30m) per hour, weighs 1,982lb (899kg), and is about 9.5ft (2.9m) long by 8.9ft (2.7m) wide and 7.2ft (2.2m) high.

"One would rightfully assume it takes expertise in mechanical engineering, software development, and electronics to even begin to construct such a complex robot," JPL says in its announcement.

"Now students, hobbyists, and enthusiasts can learn about these skills and get a taste of what it is like to construct such a rover using plans and instructions from JPL's Open Source Rover Project."

"Any method with which you can communicate with a Raspberry Pi (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB devices, etc) can be interfaced into the control system of the robot."

JPL expects the project would take 200 person-hours to build, depending on the builder's level of expertise and equipment.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Pi-based mini rover is controlled using an Xbox controller and an Android app

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