How Wheels May Soon Become Obsolete For Mars Exploration

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A look at the recent collab between NASA and Boston Dynamics, with Spot.
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Image Credits: NASA/Boston Dynamics/Paramount Pictures

Tags: boston dynamics, nasa, astrum, astrumspace

  1. Edward Fletcher

    “It generally takes about 5 to 20 minutes for a radio signal to travel the distance between Mars and Earth, depending on planet orbital positions.”

  2. Twisted Metal

    You can dozens at a time, Mars could be completely searched within a few years. Next up, Megarobotosaurus!

  3. Nao Kimaji

    “How energy may soon become obsolete”
    because the rover definitely is not designed to be very energy efficient, unlike a walking robot.

  4. Michael JF

    You didn’t even mention one important thing: The legs could be covered in nylon or something flexible to protect the joints from Martian dust. No longer would wheels get stuck

  5. Bedrock Panda

    The problem with walkers is that the propulsion is much more complex than a simple wheel and axle, meaning many more possible points of failure. Maybe once we have a crewed base on Mars, we can send out squads of robotic walkers into dangerous caves or ravines or cliff faces, than can be inspected and repaired between missions.

  6. I gotta kill something

    So, a hive mind set of mapping robots.

    One could be put at the entrance capable of sending information back to earth. Also, from earth to the rest of the hive.

    Of course they would also have to be design to return to signal distance with the one at the mouth of the cave.

    For quick information transfer.

    Then once at least 15 kilometers, or so of the cave has been mapped. Then they could go map out another cave system, and repeat.

  7. KaraokeDuov2

    Yeah, well here’s the thing. If they develop Spot for Mars exploration, they need to think very critically about how they equip Spot, or Spot won’t get up from an upside down position.

  8. CsehCsaba

    We invented the wheel so we could travel faster…..centuries later on another planet we throw it away and we turn back to the feets. It’s logical…why would we choose to move faster when we can move slowly

  9. Gary Haverland

    I believe we need smaller dedicated walkers on Mars. More dedication would allow smaller, lighter robotics more mobility and longer life. I believe that is the future of exploration on Mars and other planets.

  10. GodWorksOut

    Your audio levels are perfect now! I can finally watch while I use equipment with my headphones at work.

  11. Chen Gong

    Wheel is much more power efficient, which might be an important factor for a Mars rover…
    Maybe have a main rover with wheel, carrying small legged rovers would make the most sense.

  12. matthew hurley

    when it was showing bog dog & (to a lesser extent) atlas, i was sevearling doubting the actual capability in the field of the bots due to their bouncy and somewhat clumsy movement, but spot appears to be much more sure of foot

  13. Steven Bathurst

    Hey should add the ability of a drone capability where they can go into caverns that have deep holes. This will add more value to a mission.

  14. NavidIsANoob

    Cool as this is, the most important task when constructing extra-terrestial rovers/robots is to have as few points of failure as possible. A wheel is incredibly simple and reliable, which is why it’s the preferred tool for transportation on a planet millions of km away, where repair is impossible. A walking robot would have so many different points of failure in its legs, that I can’t see it being feasible whatsoever for space exploration, until there’s a way to easily repair robots on different planets.

  15. E mj

    This was really interesting … though I did love how you sprooked that spot can “EVEN walk up stairs” … ah yes, the most commonly found terrain on mars, the staircase :P :P

  16. Josh McDonald

    Really cool video. I can’t believe how far they’ve come with “spot”.

  17. Musa Raza

    They are for sure a key part of the future of mars colonisation, truly spectacular!!!

  18. grejboB Ojomaze

    ok, so, this is fairly interesting. One thing I can’t help but think of, though, is the power requirement. Have they addressed that yet? I have a good feeling that wheels require less work than walking, I think, though I have no sources or data to prove it lol. Just a hunch.

  19. giovanni pezzin

    Oh boy, it’ll be hard to give up the conservative cycle of a wheel for the added mobility given by the riciprocating motion of legs

  20. Ashahad Al Muthaab

    interesting, want to see these robots with added flying, swimming, floating and diving abilities sent to Alpha Centuary planets one day soon

  21. J P

    Needs an oversized version with a nuclear reactor to keep it going for decades to come and the energy to power and cary a suite of instruments along with HID bulbs to illuminate dark places.

  22. Vin

    Imagine being stuck underground from a landslide or earthquake and suddenly being helped by a robot doggo that located you by itself LOL

  23. OverKill Phil

    Wouldn’t they need to fit a Spot with an RTG (radioisotope thermoelectric generator) as solar would be no good in caves?

  24. Devin Watson

    4:00 One of the last things any resistance in the future cyperpunk dystopia will see, the room getting scanned… for “survivors” of course :P

  25. zevyn Ozevyn

    Now this just got me interested in wanting to see the tunnels on Mars now

  26. palmieres

    The thumbnail alone garnered you my like. So cool. I’ve watched several videos on Spot and a few others explaining the usefulness of these kinds of machines in exploration. Spot or Big Dog could easily be mobile units gathering data and samples to be delivered to a hub made of a more complex though unmovable structure with more capabilities. They could soon become scouts spread all over exoplanets 😃

  27. Brett 567

    Imagine if they made the walker so clever and gave it enough gadgets only for it to decide that Mars is a pretty good robo planet and decided to make it its own 😂

  28. Cyka Cat

    sounds amazing can’t wait. all i wonder is how they will get their energy inside the cave. as solar panels won’t work there

  29. James Russell

    Wow, this is extraordinary. A walker, named “Spot” on Mars. Can’t wait!

  30. The Lightning Count

    I’ve always thought we’d cover more ground on Mars and the Moon with legs on our explorers, instead.🤔

  31. V M

    My only thought about spot is the power consumption. How with it charge? And how much distance can it go without needing to stop and deploying some sort of solar panel?

  32. bobinmaine1

    Only one question, how would they charge their batteries while in a cave system? This program should be top on the list of next Mars missions.

  33. Jared Spencer

    Amazing. I would love future missions that use a combination of a slow-moving science station (like Perseverance) , drones (like Ingenuity) , and walking robots (like Spot), all working in tandem to gather science from new and wild places on Mars.

  34. CaptainNerd

    They need to have power, solar panels large enough would interfere with the way they move, and nuclear has weight issues. Not to mention the vulnerability to cosmic rays, and what would happen when something breaks, the mechanisms are more complicated than wheels. I want to see walkers, but Spot might be too delicate, maybe Big Dog would be better.

  35. Chris Hernandez

    yeah i always wondered why we use wheels when clearly they are always posing a high risk of mission failure. Also why solar powered ROV’s don’t have a more effective self-cleaning mechanism.

  36. unc0nnected

    It really seems like a missed opportunity not to talk about what is yet standing in our way from doing this. Mainly power consumption and recharging capabilities.

  37. Aereto

    Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

    The legs is most all-terrain capable, but is the most complex and vulnerable.

  38. Pheonix1328

    I really can’t imagine any other robot winning, perhaps one that is more specialized but Spot seems a sure win.

  39. MMO Archives

    honestly, considering how fine the soil is, i’m surprised they never used tracked robotics

  40. Nillow

    Imagining a SPOT or 2 on mars seems like it would just put the rovers to absolute shame, if it was done correctly

  41. VZ_ 342

    This is freakin’ awesome! Never thought of using these Bots on another planet…Genius!

  42. Jeff Luman

    I wondered, a while back, about 2 or more ‘spots’ working in autonomous concert to achieve a task. This would be a fantastic and efficient way to explore Mars, or anywhere else that spot could survive! I don’t know how much spot weighs, but I’m sure its several times less than one of the large wheeled rovers. That would make getting them there in numbers much more feasable.

  43. King Masterlord

    Martian gravity would allow gundams to support themselves, just saying

  44. Justincase008

    This is actually pretty trippy. Imagine what will be possible in a couple of hundred years.. bladerunner stuff synthetic humans and androids..

  45. Daniel Whyatt

    This is what I have been talking about for years now. We really are at the point now where we could transition from using wheels on our robots on Mars to actually having legs. It makes so much more sense for speed, agility and balance, yet we feel too nervous to take that huge yet necessary step. Not only would it look far more amazing, but would also be a lot more practical, and is definitely the way of the future for Martian and other planetary exploration.

  46. Chris Petrie

    Brilliant informative video Astrum. No over hyped nonsense, just straight forward facts about current technology possibly being utilised to propel mankind to other worlds. Now, why the main stream media cannot cover this topic of interesting technological advances and introduce it to us in a neutral and factual manner is dissapointing. The MSM would not report on this, because progress and good news are not actully good news to them, only bad news is good news. Keep up the good work and intersting high quality content Astrum, its nice to know of the positive progress mankind is making. 👍

  47. Maskyy

    This got me very excited. I’ve known about Boston Dynamics robots but it never occurred to me about using them to explore other planets. Genius idea and I hope to see what it will find in the caves of Mars.

  48. loz viv

    wow, the future. well have these kind of robots everywhere discovering all kinds of amazing things. oceans planets moons. really good vid

  49. Jerry Oswald

    The walker will need to be at least as large as wheeled rovers.
    Once you add the RTG (Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator) as the power source the weight will require a sturdier frame.
    The RTG on curiosity is that large box at the rear of the vehicle that sits at an upward angle.

  50. Dave Adams

    Wheels may get stuck in soft sand but they’re also a well proven and reliable form of propulsion. Walking style robots have many more moving parts that act as points for failure. Focus needs to be put on developing robots that could repair robots on Mars if we’re going down that path 👍

  51. Malkovith1

    Amazing, I can’t wait for this to become reality.

  52. Futuristica

    But first we’ll experience these robots here on Earth when they are used for crowd control …

  53. Denys

    Few things looks hard to solve right now:
    1. I assume that walking will take more power than rolling using wheels
    2. More complex behavior requires more computing power. That means need in more precise manufacturing process that is more prone for cosmic radiation.
    3. How they’re going to power it? Power source should be long lasting, lightweight and compact. RITEG?

  54. I Am Cyndelaq

    6:06 Massive Prometheus (Alien prequel movie) vibes here! Everything about this is amazing!

  55. Arendelle Citizen

    **Martians in a cave watching 10 spots march in**
    – Well we’re being invaded by creepy robotic dogs
    – Nice knowing you guys

  56. jasonkraley

    i’m both amazingly intrigued and presciently horrified…..

  57. tech 52

    “Hey sweetie.” (to AMEE)
    “Sweetie? Is she your navigator or your girlfriend?”
    “…I really hate this planet…”

  58. KytZu 2

    In almost every alien space movie or something. They always include walking machines or some sort of creature. Wheels are very impractical for traversing super harsh terrains. It’s awesome to see decades old robotics tech finally get implemented on world explorations.

    But I’d be very concerned about moving robots though because more moving parts are prone to more issues. I guess we’ll have to see how they test for redundancy and to keep debris away from joints etc as they happened before and joints got stuck etc. And also how they unpack the robot when they land.

  59. Robert Blackburn

    Science fiction writers predicted a quadraped 60 years ago would be the most efficient tool for exploration.

  60. KineticShotgun

    This is so cool! Although it does remind me of that black mirror episode where those robot dogs killed everyone lmao

  61. Nordlys Sørlys

    So, we are the world dominating aliens trying to conquer Mars 😂

  62. Christina Kinch

    I still can’t believe how natural looking “spot” moves sometimes. It’s so cool, that we’ll maybe soon colonize Mars with robot canines!

  63. I Just Posted Th1s

    Every. Single. Thing. Everything Boston Dynamics makes, all I can do is stare in horror thinking “This is what skynet is going to use when it’s had enough of humans.”

  64. AvoidTheCadaver

    For the same size and weight as a wheeled rover, multiple Spots could be deployed in the same lander.
    Watched a video somewherr about using orbital slings to launch and catch space craft.
    Have a small army of Spots build a mini space port where they could return samples which would be sent up to orbit. These would be picked up by an orbital sling and flung back towards earth while at the same the sling could catch an incoming spacecraft and slow it down for an orbital descent.
    With an surface port, there could be a solar powered charging station fitted with batteries, where the Spots could return for charging when they come back to drop off samples.

  65. Barnard Rabenold

    For navigating caves, the robots should drop Wi-Fi relays so that they can continue communicating with Earth.

  66. yahya risqi

    imagine a group of NASA spots that can repair itself, supplies their own battery by switching and recharging it on the surface of mars then continue exploring the cave Wow.. the possibility is endless..
    Not to mention if they have this function they can bring back other drone to life too. like spirit and opportunity

  67. luckie 17

    Well, now we know where the Adeptus Mechanicus got their beliefs from.
    All joking aside, this is really great news for future exploration on either planet, possibly NASA could take it even further and try Venus with one of these guys.

  68. Özel Hassan

    That was fascinating, it would be amazing to have a 4 legged robot or even a bipedal humanoid robot on Mars or the moon.

  69. Joe Arnold

    Oh… oh no.

    I’ve played this RTS.
    Don’t send the Boston Dynamics killbots where we don’t at least have a chance to fight back when they turn on us!

  70. Sizano Green

    Really looking forward to a mission like that. I just wish it doesn’t need another 20+ years…

  71. George Ch

    Red Planet! Such a cheesy film, still made an impression. Aimee was especially great with the detachable drone, reminds me of Ingenuity.

  72. Dunkskins

    The way those robots behave it reminds me of the way Valve include robots in their games, the gestures / expressions etc, its amazing to see how far they’ve come, I just hope that they are used in scientific study and not in Military / Police applications.

  73. Human Isomer

    This was the most interesting video about robot development and space exploration so far this year. Great!

  74. TheNasaDude

    NASA might consider sticking to the current rover layout, but replacing the wheel struts with Boston Dynamic legs while keeping the wheels underneath.

    The rover could then move on wheels on easy terrain, and move on legs locking the wheels when needed.

  75. Micah Boswell

    Always been amazed at these robots. Makes perfect sense to adopt some of their strengths for space exploration. Sending multiple to work together really broadens the capabilities, and not necessarily making them dependent on one another either. Great video!

  76. Scott Ballard

    Awesome! I was one of the 3D artists that created the AMEE robot for the movie Red Planet. Fun film to be apart of

  77. Neil Gastonguay

    This is mind-bending; what an advance in our space exploration that would be! Thanks for your excellent videos.

  78. Shadow Heart

    I never thought about exploring Martian caves.

  79. Solaris

    I like when Astrum talks about Maaz. Maaz is a cool place.

  80. King Maybus

    The robot AMEE is still one of my top sifi A.I’s robots ever like a cheetah and a ninja in one and drones before they where even publicity even able to buy lol love that movie too…. Red Planet

  81. Pup314

    Places this tech could be real woeld tested would be Mammoth Caves, Hawaii, and IcelandLava tube caves and sinkholes around the world.

  82. shaiq butt

    This is the first thing that came to my mind when I saw Boston Dynamics robot dogs, and I immediately thought those robot dogs are going to be exploring other worlds some day soon. Just imagine nasa sending hundreds of spot minis on Mars and other worlds equipped with different science equipments.

  83. Rebar77

    Remember when the Darpa Challenge was like, “Open this door.” So cool now. For more weight capacity can’t they just add more legs while enlarging the chassis? A SpiderSpot per se. As long as they’re off planet arachnophobes can sleep at night.

  84. Carlos Molano

    A mission sending a single Spot robot would be too risky/too expensive, I mean, the odds of him getting stuck in a cave would be bigger than zero
    Nonetheless imagine filling a starship with a 100 of these, each with with radioisotope generator, that would be so lit

  85. WF B3

    Watching the robots walk around in caves or passageways reminded me of several scenes from Prometheus when the orbs take flight from someone’s hand so as to map out the interior of the Engineer’s ship. Damn good video 👍🏻 btw; amazing technology, but creepy at same time.

  86. JTelli786

    Fun fact:

    Mars (to our knowledge) is the only planet completely inhabited by robots.

  87. Æ ugh

    Seeing that Robot made me feel I am suddenly 30 years in the future

  88. Zero Xssir

    I’d only really feel like we could support the one that has just the finest silt and dust levels of negotiation.

    It has to do all the things absolutely, but that stuff is fine. So maybe it will have like… Mars feet?

  89. Yanis JOSÉPHINE

    A few words on Spot’s radiation and thermal shielding would have been welcome. Be it on the Moon or Mars, the robot won’t probably be able to operate using the exact same configuration as here on earth. I’m also anxious to know what kind of mobile power supply they’re looking at. Let’s hope that Nasa will be able to secure a budget line within the Artemis program to conduct some tests on the Moon real soon.

  90. Juan Antonio Salas Martin

    Very interesting, beacause that kind of robots with legs could help scientist to explore caves another places that other robots can explore in this Moments, without doubt this Will be important for future missions in Mars.
    Thanks for the information Alex greetings and a Great day for Everybody 👋 🇲🇽🇪🇸🇮🇪🍀.

  91. Hicham Mohsen

    Imagine a skycrane with a lander holding 10 spots! Now that’s what you call a Mars colonization!

  92. Lamii Kromah

    Excellent content! At this point you are just informing us on what the future will bring, very cool.

  93. João de Carvalho

    There is an obsession with sending humans into space. But from the scientific and economic points of view, robots are the way to go.

  94. Roy The Wyvern

    “I’m Alex McColgan, and welcome to the future”

  95. J Smith -jadynsgames dot

    I really can’t wait for these robots to visit Mars!

  96. Shahram Javani

    The 3 challenges that Spot will face are, carrying a nuclear power generator on Spot. As well, the ability for its components to handle cosmic radiation, and extreme cold temperatures.

  97. Aerosmith9927

    I’ve loved this concept as soon as I heard about it from Boston Dynamics. Cool projects like these are what inspire me to become an aerospace engineer!

  98. Isaac Harper

    They should have a mother dog. A much bigger robot that carries an rtg so It can charge the smaller ones. Aswell as communications. I can really see these robots useful when humans arrive aswell.

  99. violet

    Congratulations on earning 800k+ subscribers Alex , do you think we can have a Q&A video like you did for the celebration of 100k subs?

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