Japan is developing a transforming Robotic Ball robot that will detect the moon, and it is clearly influenced by its tech industry. According to Byte, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has developed a ball-shaped transforming robot ball with Sony, Doshisha University, and toymaker Tommy that will study lunar soil before the crew rover arrives in 2029.
The 8.8oz bot will be housed in a compact ball that will help private robotics company Spacespace carry the robot on its lunar lander. The camera will be pointed at the lunar surface in an “all-in” configuration as soon as it is on the surface. According to JAXA, the new features will also ensure the robot’s usefulness in future missions.
It is not entirely surprising that these contributions have been made. Tommy and Doshisha helped make the design smaller, while Sony (who knows a lot about rolling robots) provided the control technology.
The first study of the transforming Robotic Ball robot was in 2016, but the effort was mainly strengthened with the entry of Sony in 2019 and Doshisha in 2021.
ISpace plans to launch its transforming Robotic Ball robot and lander in 2022. Space exploration robots are unlikely to be common, but this project suggests how sizing designs may allow landers to work with previously impractical robots or reduce the size of the host vehicle.