SCAR-E asteroid mining robot unveiled
Asteroid Mining's bot to start with commercial uses on Earth Metal Tech News – October 18, 2023
Last updated 10/20/2023 at 9:36am
London-based Asteroid Mining Corp. has developed the Space Capable Asteroid Robotic Explorer (SCAR-E) as a ruggedly built, adaptable, and low-cost walking and climbing robot available initially for commercial use across a range of destinations on Earth ahead of its primary task of exploring the solar system.
The company developed the SCAR-E six-legged robot to outperform Spot, Boston Dynamic's robot dog.
"We are coming for you Boston Dynamics," proclaimed Asteroid Mining CEO Mitch Hunter-Scullion. "You have four legs. We have six. Our go-to-market strategy is to go to the industrial inspection market and go to places which four legged robots cannot."
This includes scaling walls and inspecting ship hulls on Earth, all the way to investigating lunar craters and prospecting asteroids in space.
SCAR-E's mechanical and electronic components are well-protected against the wear and tear of superfine dust from lunar regolith and are designed to withstand exposure to radiation, launch accelerations, and extreme temperatures, making the spider-looking robot well-suited for space.
These adaptive functions also make the robot ideal for reducing human exposure to hostile environments here on Earth. This includes applications in mines, critical infrastructure inspections, search and rescue, nuclear decommissioning, remote sensing, and disaster relief.
"We are a robotics company with asteroid-mining aspirations," said Hunter-Scullion. "Space resources is a very exciting industry. But it's one which, let's be honest, isn't currently existing fully into its mature sense."
SCAR-E, which is scalable up to 20 times its initial 20-kilogram size, will eventually facilitate remote and automated exploration of our solar system-capable of extraterrestrial exploration and mining operations, as well as in-orbit asset maintenance such as assisted spacewalks.
Wheeled rovers have proven useful on the moon or Mars. But they may have trouble outside their current locales of mostly solid, flat expanses. Six legs, each terminating in six fingerlike grippers, are much more adaptable to uneven natural and manmade environments.
The final frontier
All the technology Asteroid Mining is developing, including SCAR-E, has the ultimate intention of attaining the company's primary mission – space mining.
The startup's lineup includes the Asteroid Prospecting Satellite I (APS-1), a space telescope launching as early as 2025 for scanning near-Earth and main belt asteroids over the next two years to estimate their compositions.
Asteroids identified by APS-1 will be refined down to the single best mining candidate with the goal of extracting 20 metric tons of platinum group metals to be sent down to Earth in the reusable mining shuttle. The mine will continue operating until depletion, with subsequent shuttles bringing tools for in-situ resource utilization.
As for SCAR-E, the company sees the six-legged robot playing a role in assisting space exploration and colonization that will blaze a trail for the company's asteroid mining aspirations.
"If you wanted to go into the Shackleton crater on the moon, you're not going to be [able] to get there with wheels," Hunter-Scullion pointed out. "We are looking for International Space Station and lunar applications for this very robot in about 2026, 2027. Beyond that, we'd be looking to validate target selection for an expedition-class mission. Then, towards the end of this decade, if not the early 2030s, we'd be looking to send this very robot or its son up to the asteroids in order to start exploring the resources so the humanity can take advantage of our celestial backyard."