NASA has dubbed its RASSOR rover “a blue collar robot.” This thing may get down and dirty but its design and purpose are quite elegant.
RASSOR stands for Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot and is pronounced “razor.” The concept is currently being developed at the Kennedy Space Center as a potential solution to the problem of carrying heavy propellant on space missions. Theoretically, the rover would mine the surface of planets in order to gather up the components needed for water, oxygen, and rocket fuel.
“This is not your typical NASA rover with lots of very sophisticated instruments on it that are quite fragile,” according to Rob Mueller, a senior technologist at KSC’s Surface Systems. He adds, “It can dig, it can climb, it can flip over. If it does flip over, it can right itself up again.” Here’s an earlier iteration taking on some stairs:
No word yet on when RASSOR will be ready for action but it will endure a grueling workload when it’s done. Engineers expect it to be five times faster than Curiosity and to handle 16-hour shifts in which it could haul 40 pounds of material per trip.
You can see the tough little guy in action below.