Curiosity made its time. The adventures of this little robot sent on Mars by NASA held in the breath of millions of fans for six years. But the experts are formal : to maximize our chances of discovering life on another celestial body, we must explore the limits of our solar system. A major challenge for humanity. Because the transport distances will be much larger than the 76 million miles, which, on average, separate us from the red planet. Not to mention the hostile environment of some stars, making exploration difficult or impossible.

lighter and More resistant

in The course of their future missions, robots will need to carry out complex operations at temperatures well below zero. They will also have to withstand radiation levels of dantean. In these extreme conditions, each gram of material taken into account. This is why NASA, in partnership with the editor of 3D design software Autodesk, working on the robots of the future lighter, more resistant and better suited to long space travel. “The goal is to increase performance by 30% at a minimum”, both in the manufacturing process and the capabilities of the robot on the field, ” says Fikret Kalay, responsible, Autodesk, advanced research in robotics.

In its central part, the robot will house instruments to measure


To get there, the software provided by the publisher asking for the artificial intelligence to explore a maximum of designs. Specifically, the computer of the proposals from the constraints dictated by the human being. “To build a chair for example, is not going to draw a seated, then a folder and four feet. We will indicate to the machine that the object must have a surface to sit on and another to rest the arm,” says Fikret Kalay. The program then generates hundreds, even thousands, of concepts which are then refined depending on, for example, manufacturing constraints, until there remains only a handful. This way disruptive of design objects – already used by some Formula 1 teams – leads to more complex forms and more strange, as, for example, the structure of future rovers (see photo above).

A robot capable of printing a house.

But this design – that a human would not have been able to conceive – is more effective, according to the results obtained by simulation. “90% of the structure of the robot that we present has benefited from this process, called design-generative,” explained Fikret Kalay. This large spider of titanium and aluminum will not be produced using a 3D printer, but thanks to a mould. On the other hand, the experts from Autodesk are working on a manufacturing cell : a robot capable of printing a house … on another planet !

In the future, robots print buildings on other planets


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“given the travel distance and weight in the rocket, we can not send to block in space. On the other hand, we will use local resources,” explained Fikret Kalay. The sand and the residues of meteorites, for example, can be combined with a specific resin prepared from waste plastics. The result ? A home that is more resistant to compression and traction than the concrete ! In the future, we will build a watertight, rigid, able to withstand a rain of meteorites and radiation, assures the expert. But before reaching that, it will still have to wait a few tens of years.