Technology

Lunar rovers to be powered by wireless chargers

The CubeRover is the first space technology to be integrated with the wireless technology.   | Photo Credit: Astrobotic

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A NASA-funded space technology company Astrobotic is developing lightweight, ultrafast wireless chargers that could help both humans and robots live and work on the moon.

It has won a $5.7 million NASA contract to develop the charging technology in collaboration with Bosch, University of Washington(UW) and its spinout WiBotic.

“Generating, storing, and transmitting power is a critical infrastructure needed for all human and robotic activities in space,” says Cedric Corpa de la Fuente, Electrical Engineer for Planetary Mobility at Astrobotic.

"A wireless charging system would mitigate challenges for standalone systems that don’t have the resources to generate power independently through the traditional methods.”

The magnetic resonance-based power supply system is the first of its kind in space proximity charging.

Astrobotic believes that the charging technology can be used not only on the Moon, but also in critical space applications on Mars, in orbit, and beyond.

Astrobotic’s ultralight CubeRover will be the first space technology to be integrated with the wireless charging system.

The CubeRover will have an intelligent autonomous navigation system that will help it to find charging docks to power-up.

Such a high precise navigation system will also help other planetary rovers to find charging stations.

Bosch will engineer “smart” charge docking software for CubeRover, prototype materials, and assist with travel costs.

Astrobotic expects the new technology to eliminate the issues on wireless charging in space like how to keep away the metallic iron in moon dust from interfering with charging connections.

 

“Moon dust is very fine and tends to stick to surfaces because it gets electrically charged," said UW lead researcher Joshua Smith.

The UW team will work to find out how much extra power should be transferred to overcome the expected losses to heat, or how much cooling capacity the system needs to get rid of the heat produced in the moon dust.

UW will also help to test the performance of the charging system in its Sensor Systems Lab that will support the realistic lunar environment testing.

WiBotic will develop the system software and provide engineering, mechanical, and electrical design support.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 10:17:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/lunar-rovers-to-be-powered-by-wireless-chargers/article33140443.ece

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