In an attempt to easily navigate upon the cratered surface of the Moon, a Canadian university is developing wheels for their upcoming rover that could enable to country to literally drive almost anywhere off world.
Mechanical Engineering Professor Peter Radziszewski is leading the team as part of an $11.5-million contract awarded by the Canadian Space Agency to Neptec Design Group.
“My students and I are thrilled to be on the Neptec Rover Team (NRT) as it will allow us to advance our earlier prototypes of lunar-friendly wheels and make a significant and innovative contribution to Canada’s space program,” said Radziszewski. [...]
Radziszewski and his team began working on developing wheel prototypes in 2009, one of which – dubbed iRing – is made of an external chainmail “fabric” filled with granular particulate matter; sort of like a metal bean-bag chair shaped like a wheel. This distinctive design provides both flexibility and sturdiness when travelling over extremely bumpy lunar terrain. (Physorg.com)
This wheel sounds even better than the Lunar Tweel being designed by Michelin, as it would enable colonists to quickly traverse across the barren landscape without experiencing massive amounts of whip lash (which isn’t exactly healthy for the neck).
Such technology could also be adapted for rovers upon other worlds (like Callisto and Mars), which would help encourage settlers to explore their new global homes with greater ease.
While it’s great to see Canada contributing to humanities quest to conquer our star system, hopefully the nation will also consider building a human rated rocket launcher of their own (as NASA may not exactly have the funds to ferry Americans and Canadians off world in the future).
Image: The 8-inch iRings wheels demonstrating compliance using a rover testbed Credit: Brad Jones / Neptec Design Group