If you ever dreamed of toying around with your very own Mars Curiosity Rover, now’s your chance to make that wish come true.
The good folks at NASA have started a cool new project known as the Open Source Rover (OSR), which essentially offers a DYI manual on how to build a low-cost, scaled-down version of the Curiosity rover.
Launched by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, the OSR project shows you all you need to know about building your own version of NASA’s Curiosity rover, complete with instructions and design plans for a rover model which will cost you in the vicinity of $2,500.
The project is meant to offer rover enthusiasts “a taste of what it is like to construct a scaled-down version of a rover,” while also sticking to a reasonable budget, NASA announced earlier this week.
To this effect, JPL engineers have come up with an accessible rover design that can be put together using inexpensive off-the-shelf parts. Just like the famous Curiosity rover, this version also includes six-wheel steering and “rocker-bogie suspension,” which allows it to effortlessly climb rock piles during its science quests through your backyard.
“We designed a driving six-wheel rover with almost the same suspension system as the real rovers on Mars, but using commonly available components that you can easily buy online and assemble in a garage,” touts the JPL Open Source Rover website.
The plans for the mini-rover are available for download on the GitHub platform, together with the instructions on how to build your own Curiosity robot. According to the sources, the design is so simple that even high-school students can take a crack at building their own Mars rover.
“We provide the parts list and the build instructions, you provide the hands, brains, and elbow grease to put it all together,” reads the project’s web page.
The Curiosity rover himself helped spread the word, tweeting about the new project: “I shall call her Mini-Me.”
The great thing about the OSR project is that you can make your own mark on the rover design and customize it the way you see fit, either by adding personal touches or elaborating on its functions to make it even better.
For instance, you get to choose what type of controllers you use and have the freedom to install USB cameras, solar panels, and even science payloads to make it as realistic as possible, details JPL.
“The rover was built to be improved,” notes the OSR website, which encourages everyone who plans to take up the challenge and build their very own version of the Curiosity rover to share their ideas and tell others how they upgraded the original design.
The idea to kick-start the project came after JPL had loads of success with a previous educational rover model, explains NASA. Called ROV-E, the mini-rover was built to tour schools and museums to educate the public on how Mars rovers work.