In December 2021, Japanese robotics company Gitai was testing its R1 rover, commissioned by Jaxa and intending to travel to the Moon. A video clip, published a few months later, allows to admire the capabilities of the device in realistic conditions that reproduce the characteristics of the lunar regolith.
In parallel with the Artemis program, some space agencies are preparing for their upcoming arrival on the moon with the rover. It is for In partnership with the Japanese company specialized in , Jitai. In September 2020, Jaxa announced the establishment of cooperation with the private company with the aim of design assigned to carry out missions in space.
To this end, Jitai has developed a multifunctional rover, discreetly called the R1. In December 2021, the capabilities of the R1 were tested in real-world conditions, on a surface that simulates a plain on the Moon and its idiosyncrasies. In a video posted in February 2022, the robot wowed with its fluidity and capabilities. Thus, the rover can easily maneuver and change direction, overcoming natural obstacles or even collecting objects on the ground. The experiment was conducted at the Sagamihara campus in Japan.
The R1 is equipped with four legs whose multi-directional wheels allow the vehicle to quickly adjust its position. Testing has shown that the unit is able to overcome obstacles and medium-sized rocks, with the rover box raised or lowered. Thanks to its mobility, it can also climb slopes whose inclination is estimated between 15 and 20 degrees.
There are two articulated arms at the front of the robot making it possible to carry out scavenging operations on the ground. The two handles positioned at the end of the arms can use a small shovel to drop samples of lunar dust into a container which is then sealed by the rover before being stored in a container. The levers, divided into several parts, give the R1 a wide range of motion. The device is remotely controlled by an engineer, makes precise and technical gestures: he can easily separate a belt from the package, move it and use tools. Jitai showcases her expertise by building her rover And a set of solar panels. R1 precisely performs the movements required to assemble the structure, by tightening the struts or by adjusting the position of the solar panels.
R1, more efficient than human?
Regarding the R1 rover, an impressive technical presentation in December 2021 should confirm the Japanese Aerospace Administration’s ambition for robotic missions to the Moon. Gitai notes in the video presentation of the rover that the rover could quickly make its first turns in lunar dust, as early as 2025.
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