The possibility of exploring the Moon and building a full-fledged base on its surface is being studied by specialists from different countries. In Japan, this has certainly been the case with its growing arsenal of robotics startups. The Japanese company GITAI intends to contribute to the colonization of the Earth’s only natural satellite, whose specialists have created a four-wheeled robotic system, named R1, designed to perform various tasks on the Moon. The “space dedicated, general-purpose robot“, resembling that of a centaur, has gained widespread interest.
According to GITAI, the robotic centaur R1 was vigorously tested at the test site of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) last December. The site itself provided conditions simulating lunar terrain. The R1 is reported to have successfully dealt with a range of tasks, including a test of mobility and the ability to overcome obstacles. It also managed to assemble a solar panel, collect resource samples from the landfill surface and was able to climb a sand hill with a 15-20° slope.
The design and configuration of the R1 vehicle itself is what makes it adapt to the above conditions. The robotic all-terrain design includes four 360° wheels, which allow it to move smoothly and successfully overcome obstacles. This approach also allows it to move sideways if necessary, as well as to move over bumps with a slope angle of up to 20°. This was confirmed by testing at the JAXA test site, as shown in the video below. There is also a lantern, flexible arms and several cameras. The GITAI R1 is controlled by an operator located remotely with the use of virtual reality controllers.
As for GITAI, the Japanese startup is developing robotic devices that could prove useful in human space exploration. The startup plans to become an equal partner of the world’s leading aerospace companies by 2040, creating inexpensive and safe robots for building cities on the Moon and Mars. Working closely with JAXA, GITAI has the necessary tools to have an impact on the industry.
Apart from the R1, the company has a range of other projects dedicated to space, such as the S1 “the task specific space robot” and the H1 “robot manipulation system”. For a full list of projects, the GITAI website provides further information.
For other stories related to robotics, startups, space and the future, please see our website: