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NASA trains Athlete for alien worlds

NASA's 'Athlete' is a six-legged multipurpose explorer that's actually made up of two three-legged robots joined at the head.
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One of NASA's more creative projects, called "Athlete," may unleash a history-making robotic explorer of alien worlds. The latest version of the "All-Terrain, Hex-Limbed, Extra-Terrestrial Explorer" is a six-legged creature that's 15 feet wide, can stand up to 15 feet tall and can carry up to 990 pounds. It is actually made up of two three-legged robots joined at the head. The legs, or "limbs" as NASA prefers, can work independently to do tasks such as drill, grip, and scoop. They can even walk or climb if the wheels get stuck in a hostile environment.

The developers of Athlete at JPL Laboratories say the latest prototype is about half the size of the ones that could be rolling about places such as Mars or the moon. The Athlete can run at about 1.25 miles per hour and is getting ready for testing next month in the Arizona desert.

Credit: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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This Athlete practices carrying a large load on a dirt road near JPL Laboratories where it is being developed. It's official test is to travel at least 25 miles over 14 days under its own power.

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The two three-legged robots can support up to 990 pounds.

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An early prototype of Athlete.

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Moving a box with its gripper attachment.

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Drilling into a cliff face.

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Digging with a scoop attachment.

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Athlete's can climb a hill as each limb can be locked and operated independently.

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Looks like the droids in Star Wars.

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Athlete at the Darts Simulation Laboratory

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The Athlete rover.

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Posing as a scorpion.

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This Athlete is climbing a hill.

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Rappelling down a hill.

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