ProtoInnovations, LLC proposes to continue applied research and development of intelligent robotic lunar wheels (IRLWs) with integrated sensing and perception to improve or enable robust mobility on the Moon. The IRLW uses robust slip estimation, explicit sinkage measurements, and perception algorithms to identify entrapment risks in challenging terrain containing soft-soil, and real-time controls to respond to such risks. Offloading entrapment risk assessment capabilities to an intelligent robotic wheel would allow a rover to allocate more of the main computing power for higher-level mission objectives while simultaneously improving the critical reaction time to entrapment risks such as wheel slip and wheel sinkage. The IRLW would aid robotic or manned rovers on the Moon by assessing and promptly responding to mobility hazards.
The IRLW technology has significant potential for near-term and long-term NASA missions to the Moon and Mars. NASA has outlined the need for additional robotic mobility capabilities for missions to the lunar surface to assist humans and provide additional exploration capabilities. This technology boasts several important innovations relevant to robotic mobility for exploration and work using manned or robotic rover by detecting, assessing, and responding to hazards that could significantly limit the mobility or cause entrapment of a rover.
The IRLW technology will benefit manned and robotic vehicles in numerous applications and especially those involving work in agriculture, construction, material handling, mining, and off-road transportation. We will pursue commercialization of this technology through collaborative advanced development with and licensing to Original Equipment Manufacturers.