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NASA teaches public to build DIY Mars rover

/ 04:55 PM August 04, 2018

The Jet Propulsion Labs Open Source Rover  (Image: NASA/JPL)

NASA recently uploaded open-source plans for building a do-it-yourself rover similar to the one in Mars.

Since the Curiosity rover landed on Mars, budding engineers have been asking NASA for plans that could allow them to build their own Mars rover. However, building a rover is a complicated affair,  so the people at NASA worked to simplify the Curiosity design and came up with their JPL Open Source Rover (OSR), according to a statement.

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The OSR was closely based on the ROV-E, a scaled down version of Curiosity, which NASA used as an educational tool. It was small enough to be brought into classrooms but still too expensive to make by independent engineers.

On the other hand, the OSR had been designed with limited resources in mind. Engineers could download the OSR plans from GitHub and build it using off-the-shelf parts with a budget of $2,500 (about P130,000). The price may still be a bit challenging, but it’s a far cry from the thousands of dollars spent to build the ROV-E and the millions put into the Curiosity.

As an open-source project, NASA gave the OSR a lot of headroom for customization. Builders could customize the base model’s power source and computational power, or add extra components based on what’s needed. NASA also hoped the release of the OSR plans would lead to collaboration among schools, and the creation of designs Jet Propulsion Labs staff hadn’t thought about.

“It was an extremely rewarding experience getting to work with the high school teams testing the build process. They had a ton of great ideas and were so enthusiastic about getting involved in robotics and STEM in general. It was exactly what we were hoping to inspire with this project,” said JPL OSR designer and engineer Eric Junkins.

NASA also launched an interactive website to explain what builders could do with the OSR.  /ra

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TOPICS: Mars Curiosity, NASA, open source, Robotic Rover
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