Hi!There are really three stages of this robot experiment:
I’ll outline each of these. The first today, then the other two tomorrow and the next day.
First, we’ll start with the origin of this 19th robot. David and I looked at our legacy of the 18 prior ‘bots and thought we could build on that. However, we decided on a significant modification – switching from a Ribbon, to a Line.
Why? Because the Elevator we need for Earth will be wide and flat. The seven years, from 2001-2007 of prior effort was focused on the Earth Elevator, so naturally we tried working with a Ribbon analogy. During those first 18 robots, we worked with many Ribbon types (plastic, fiberglass, nylon, carbon composite, even surveyor’s tape) and widths (2-9 cm). Each had their own advantages and disadvantages. And each robot had to be modified for each Ribbon – attachment mechanisms, tensions, coefficient of friction for each gripping surface. We had to take into account the way that the motors were mounted, how they would be powered (for how long and at what speeds could we run the motors), and we spent a lot of time trying various gripping configurations. For each test, we’d actually be running 3-6 different individual experiments.
So this new set of experiments – paid for by our Kickstarter backers – was pretty different. We switched to a completely different lifting mechanism because the medium we were climbing (a rope, not a ribbon) changed form factor. We did this for the same reason we used to work toward the Earth Elevator; now we were working toward the Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure. We know (think!) that the LSIE will require a very thin initial thread. Its form factor is more like a string than a Ribbon. David and I started re-designing based on this plan.
We assumed that we’d be able to take many of the lessons learned from the first ‘bots, and apply them across the board to this new design. We were right about certain aspects – modularity, weight distribution, placement and layout of the various components, guide systems, coding and (limited) artificial intelligence, telemetry and communications, etc. So we sketched out a basic design – the spine would be long and thin, while the gripping surface would be wide and round.
In hind-sight, it’s pretty easy to see where some of the mistakes occurred… but I’ll leave off and describe them in some detail over the next two updates. There’s a lot to tell, so if you’d like specific information please let me know.
Take care, mjl