SPACE MISSION

Carbon reinforced components to help the SpaceHopper project

The innovative three-legged hopping robot is specifically designed for controlled locomotion in zero gravity and is expected to provide new opportunities for asteroid exploration

The engineering company Scheurer Swiss GmbH, known for its long-standing expertise with fibre composite technologies, is supporting the focus project “SpaceHopper” of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich with its engineering know-how, printing carbon reinforced robot components and using its extensive network to connect the project team with other companies to complete the unique robot.

The innovative three-legged hopping robot is specifically designed for controlled locomotion in zero gravity and is expected to provide new opportunities for asteroid exploration. After only eight months of development, the first prototype was successfully presented at the end of May.

The difficult, especially weightless, environment of astronomical small bodies requires a new, unique research solution. The "SpaceHopper" robotics project supported by Scheurer Swiss aims to be just that. With the support of experts from research, industry and lightweight construction, the ten budding engineers from ETH Zurich and ZHAW have developed and built the revolutionary mobility platform: a three-legged hopping robot with carbon reinforced components from the 3D printer, lightweight and stable, the design optimized for low gravity hopping.

"One of the challenges was to make the legs as thin-walled as possible to minimize the overall weight of the robot. Nevertheless, they have to withstand the forces of the bouncing impact," explains Mechanical Designer, Emma Steinke, and emphasizes: "We are glad to have Scheurer Swiss on our side as a lightweight design expert. The competent expertise around state-of-the-art fibre composite technologies and 3D printing as well as the large network of Scheurer Swiss were very valuable for us and contributed to the success of our focus project from the very beginning."

Scheurer Swiss CEO, Dominik Scheurer, points out, "Carbon reinforced 3D printing is ideally suited for the robotic components because virtually any shape can be produced. Hollow bodies, such as the robot's legs, can be provided with support structures to stabilize them without weighing them down unnecessarily. Additive manufacturing is the ideal manufacturing process for this, and it's very cost-effective."

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