Roving Packs of Robot Dogs Are Coming to the Moon

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It’s the year 2035. You wake up and press a button that opens up the blinds for your bedroom window revealing a spectacular view of Earth. It’s another “morning” on the moon as you start your day in one of the human colonies on the lunar surface. As you get out of bed, though, you hear it: the familiar whirring sounds of actuators and the tip tap of feet as your robot dog makes its way towards you. You pet the pooch before you two get started on another day of exploring the moon.

This might seem like a fever dream brought on by a few too many episodes of “The Jetsons”—but it could actually become a reality in the future. In fact, two teams are currently in a heated competition to develop a working prototype lunar rover that resembles a robot dog.

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH Zurich) and the Research Center for Information Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany (FZI) both entered robot dog designs in the ESA’s lunar polar challenge, a competition for European and Canadian engineering teams to develop moon rovers capable of scouting and prospecting valuable resources such as ice in harsh and inhospitable areas of the moon like the south lunar pole.

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