NASA's prototype electric buggy could influence future space rovers and conventional cars. Jim Drury reports.
Driving NASA's Modular Robotic Vehicle looks like an out of this world experience.... and the space agency says this might one day be a possibility. The two-seat space buggy is a prototype - but a future version could be used on the Moon or Mars. The electric vehicle - MRV for short - has four independent wheel modules called e-corners, which rotate 180 degrees. A driver uses control inputs converted to electrical signals and transmitted by wires to its motors. When not being driven remotely, steering wheel turns are recorded by sensors and sent to computers at the vehicle's rear which command the wheels' motors. If the steering motor fails, a back-up computer system takes over. Though designed with future space missions in mind, NASA says it's well-suited for busy urban environments, with a top speed of 70 kilometres per hour. After all, it's unlikely astronauts will be able to park like this on the Moon.