CESAR: A lunar crater exploration and sample return robot

Jakob Schwendner, Felix Grimminger, Sebastian Bartsch, Thilo Kaupisch, Mehmed Yüksel, Andreas Bresser, Joel Bessekon, Alexander Dieterle, Steffen Schmidt, Michael Seydel, Frank Kirchner

In: Intelligent Robots and Systems. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS-09) October 10-15 St. Louis MO United States Pages 3355-3360 ISBN 978-1-4244-3803-7 10/2009.


Suspicion of water ice deposits in the lunar south-polar region have sparked new interest into the earth's smaller companion, and robotic crater sample return missions are being considered by a number of space agencies. The difficult terrain with an inclination of over 30°, eternal darkness and temperatures of less than -173°C make this a difficult task. In this paper we present a novel, bio-inspired light-weight system design, which demonstrates a possible approach for such a mission. The robot managed to come first in the Lunar Robotic Challenge (LRC), organised by the European Space Agency (ESA) in October 2008. Using a remote operated robot, we demonstrated to climb into and out of a lunar-like crater with inclination of more than 35° on loose substrate, and performed the collection and delivery of a 100g soil sample without the aid of external illumination.

German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence
Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz