After Neil Armstrong put his foot on the moon first in the year 1969, scientists are still improving technology to get more details about space. Recently, a NASA funded company won a $5.7 million contract to develop wireless chargers for Lunar rovers. Astrobotic, the company with funding from NASA will develop lightweight, ultrafast wireless chargers that could help both humans and robots live and work on the moon. It is working in collaboration with Bosch, University of Washington and its spinout WiBotic.
First of its kind : Wireless chargers for lunar rovers
Speaking about the company’s work, Cedric Corpa de la Fuente said that infrastructure for generating, storing, and transmitting power are basic requirements for human and robotic activities in space. Cedric is an Electrical Engineer for Planetary Mobility at Astrobotic. Further, he said that a wireless charging system would mitigate challenges for standalone systems that don’t have the resources to generate power independently through traditional methods. It will be first of its kind and use a magnetic resonance-based power supply.
CubeRover to use the charging system
Cuberover, a rover build by Astrobotic will be the first to use the wireless charging system. It will have an intelligent autonomous navigation system that will help it to find charging docks to power-up. Moreover, these navigation systems will also help other planetary rovers to find a charging station.
The charge docking software for CubeRover will be built by Bosch. In addition to that, Bosch will also engineer the prototype materials and assist with travel costs. Whereas, Wibotic is in charge of developing system software and providing engineering, mechanical and electrical design support.
Tech will eliminate issues in wireless charging
The new technology will help eliminate the issues on wireless charging in space. Wireless charging has many issues in space. Dust in space is one of the major issues rovers face in outer space. The spirit landrover launched by NASA got stuck in a sand trap and later on failed to charge its batteries due to a dust storm. As a result, communication with earth stopped. Also, Lead Researcher at the University of Washington, Joshua Smith said that the moon dust is very fine and tends to stick to surfaces after it gets electrically charged.
Testing in UW Labs
The UW team will test the performance of the charging system in its Sensor Systems Lab. The lab supports realistic lunar environment testing. Also, they are working to find out the extra power that should be transferred to overcome the expected losses or heat. In addition to that, they will also find out the requirement of cooling capacity. Rovers require a certain cooling capacity to get rid of the heat in the moon dust.