Image copyright: James Steidl/

Serpentine Robots for Planetary Exploration (SERPEX)

SINTEF ICT (Applied Cybernetics), CIRiS (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Space), and NSC (the Norwegian Space Centre) are cooperating in the SERPEX project, which aims at investigating the feasibility of employing snake robots in future planetary exploration missions. The project is funded by ESA (the European Space Agency).

Researchers at SINTEF and CIRiS see great potential in the use of snake robots in space missions involving planetary exploration. A snake robot can for instance work together with a planetary rover through a tethered connection, and can also act as the manipulator arm of the rover when it is not crawling freely. The SERPEX project will identify advantages, disadvantages, possibilities, and challenges related to the use of such mechanisms in a space mission context.

The long-term motivation behind the project is the development of a robotic propulsion mechanism that can reach and operate in locations not accessible by existing planetary rovers. The many application areas of snake robots on earth imply that the technological development of a snake robot for space missions will have strong synergies with related earthbound applications. Many industries and application areas on earth can both support and make use of the technological elements of a snake robot developed for space missions.

Click here for a higher resolution version of the image of the rover and the snake robot.
(Image copyright: James Steidl/

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