back to article NASA wants to send HEDGEHOGS to Mars

The space-makers at JPL are toying with the idea of getting rid of wheels for planetary exploration robots. Instead, the “hedgehog” design in the pic above (here for mobile readers) exploits low gravity environments to get around without them. Nicknamed “Hedgehog”, the robot is a joint project with the Jet Propulsion …

  1. James O'Shea Silver badge

    been done.

    the webcomic Kevin & Kell sent Lindesfarne the hedgehog into orbit back in July 2000.

    For those who haven't been following the (drumroll, please) longest running continuously updated webcomic still around, Kevin is a rabbit. Kell is a wolf. They're married. (Yes, really. Kevin's a really big rabbit.) Lindesfarne is their adopted daughter. She's really British royalty, but can't stand the taste of English food. (Yes, really. She had her big ears trimmed.) There's more, but the strip's been running every day since September 1995 and has had MANY story arcs. if you don't like predator/prey jokes, stay away. If you don't like puns, particularly predator/prey puns, stay away. leaves a lot of stuff out.

  2. mediabeing

    It's cute and clever, but much of its internal space is for the drive system.

    The thing can't grab. It's mainly for looking at/measuring stuff.

    There are several videos of it or its prototype online.

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      "There are several videos of it or its prototype online."

      And a good thing too. El Reg videos never play for me.

      Here's one that does. (Daily Mail)

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        I can never watch them either... thanks for the link!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dinsdale's Bane...

    Spiny Norman!

  4. Tail Up
    Thumb Up

    Give 'Em Flowers

    Make Hedgehogs, Not Bombs (-:


  5. Chozo

    Zelda's Cubes!

    Gerry Anderson's Terrahawks mind control program is clearly starting to yield results.

  6. D@v3

    "The Enrichment Center reminds you that the Weighted Companion Cube will never threaten to stab you and, in fact, cannot speak."

  7. Arachnoid

    Given the Rover analogy

    Of driving but ending up tumbling off into Space would this Hedgehog not be even more liable to just fly off the surface in such low gravity areas?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wheels have proven themselves over the last hundred thousand years to be the best way of transporting a vehicle over land. I can't help thinking that this is being done just because it's cool rather than any actual good reason.

    I think they could make better rovers by basing their designs on some of the more rugged earth vehicles. A toyota pickup, a caterpillar digger or a unimog, for example.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      The metal wheels on all three of the latest Mars rovers have had trouble (from memory), such that at least one of them now does a lot of driving backwards.

      Tyres and caterpillar tracks would help, but both are high maintenance - and mechanics are in short supply up there. Once you throw a track, you're only going in circles - damage a single wheel and you're just less efficient.

      Engineering something to survive harsh environments is, of course, proven technology. But making it light enough to stick on a rocket that has to hit escape velocity from Earth is much harder. Hence this experimentation.

      Also, if you can make a swarm of light somethings, that have cameras and solar panels, then they don't need all that many other instruments. You scatter them over a wide area, and then whichever ones find the most interesting stuff tell you where to send the rover. Either in a later mission, or the one rover and 10 hedgehogs mission you've just sent.

  9. Graham Marsden

    "Since you're dying for the video of the NASA test

    " – the robots were flown on the microgravity research aircraft, NASA's C-9 (the “vomit comet”) – here it is."

    Err, no it isn't. That goes to a video of the possibility of life on Europa (although no black monoliths were involved)

    1. Arachnoid

      Re: "Since you're dying for the video of the NASA test

      There is a video but its hardly stellar.........its like watching a golfer trying to get a ball out of a sand bunker and failing

  10. jonathan1


    I thought they're sending actual hedgehogs to mars...

    My first questions was going to be why hedgehogs

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Damn...

      My first question was going to be why hedgehogs?

      Because: the hedgehog can never be buggered at all


      1. hplasm Silver badge

        Re: Damn...


        Hence resistant to alien 'probing'...

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Damn...

          You can do a giraffe, if you stand on a stool,

          And no spaceman is safe from a Martian's green tool.

          But you're safe just so long as you roll into a ball.

          Oh! The hedgehog can never be buggered at all.

          with apologies to Sir Terry

          1. Graham Marsden

            Re: Damn...

            Could someone help me get Mr I ain't Spartacus down off the table and relieve him of that bottle...

  11. Blitheringeejit

    It's the 21st century, dammit...

    ....shouldn't our robots be using jet packs by now? The wheel is surely due for retirement, after thousands of years of loyal service to humanity.

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