Raspberry Pi-based robotics projects have been popping up since the board was released in 2013, but few come close to this: a Nasa-backed Mars Rover. With plans set to be released by the Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL), there is a real possibility that you could build your own $2.5 billion rover … for a fraction of the cost!
While the build is a bit smaller than you might expect a real Mars Rover to be, the beauty is in its comparative simplicity. JPL suggest that the total cost could be around $2500.
It depends on how big you plan to go. After all, with a Raspberry Pi at the heart of the build, a rover like this could be scaled up for all-terrain use on Devon Island, or scaled down to navigate the gullies and mounds of your back garden.
The accompanying video is by Redditor typo9292, who writes:
“So this is where it gets exciting, I built this with NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs - it's the first build of their open source rover by an outsider ;) Right now you can sign up to be notified when the plans are made public or if you're a school/tech club, etc., you can try the beta instructions earlier.”
Meanwhile, the presence of the Raspberry Pi means that the Mars Rover can be voice-controlled, using Alexa and an AWS back-end.
Plans require the use of RobotZone’s Actobotics ball-bearing based, precision building system, and requires 10 motors, and their couplers. In the Reddit thread, typo9292 recommends keeping the initial build as simple as possible, skipping the PiCam until you’ve managed to get the rover moving. Meanwhile, the bulk of the cost is reported to be due to a few expensive components: the powertrain and motors, controllers, and the rover’s battery.
And, while the rover might be more expensive than the average Raspberry Pi project, various components can be reused on other ventures. Interested? Head to the JPL website now to register your interest in the plans!