The Shapeshifter: a Morphing, Multi-Agent,Multi-Modal Robotic Platform for the Exploration of Titan (preprint version) [article]

Ali-akbar Agha-mohammadi, Stephanie Schneider , Issa A.D. Nesnas, Alessandra Babuscia Jet Propulsion Lab., California Institute of Technology and Sanford University and
2020 arXiv   pre-print
In this report for the Nasa NIAC Phase I study, we present a mission architecture and a robotic platform, the Shapeshifter, that allow multi-domain and redundant mobility on Saturn's moon Titan, and potentially other bodies with atmospheres. The Shapeshifter is a collection of simple and affordable robotic units, called Cobots, comparable to personal palm-size quadcopters. By attaching and detaching with each other, multiple Cobots can shape-shift into novel structures, capable of (a) rolling
more » ... the surface, to increase the traverse range, (b) flying in a flight array formation, and (c) swimming on or under liquid. A ground station complements the robotic platform, hosting science instrumentation and providing power to recharge the batteries of the Cobots. Our Phase I study had the objective of providing an initial assessment of the feasibility of the proposed robotic platform architecture, and in particular (a) to characterize the expected science return of a mission to the Sotra-Patera region on Titan; (b) to verify the mechanical and algorithmic feasibility of building a multi-agent platform capable of flying, docking, rolling and un-docking; (c) to evaluate the increased range and efficiency of rolling on Titan w.r.t to flying; (d) to define a case-study of a mission for the exploration of the cryovolcano Sotra-Patera on Titan, whose expected variety of geological features challenges conventional mobility platforms.
arXiv:2003.08293v1 fatcat:4u55de7yxvdfvd7lsep5k5wkti