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A Stewart Platform Lunar Rover



Roger V. Bostelman, James S. Albus, Karl Murphy, T M. Tsai, E Amatucci


A lunar version of the Robocrane is being developed at the Robot Systems Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to address the needs of NASA researchers. The NIST robot, called ROBOCRANE, has three-pairs of rigged legs instead of actuators to create a gantry. The legs are joined in a Stewart Platform configuration providing a means for canceling out rotations normally present in gantry structures. Therefore, the frame can be made lightweight and yet, withstand high forces and torques limited mainly by the compression/tension strength of each leg. Each of three six foot legs rotates about an upper triangle to provide stable, yet flexible three-point ground contact. This makes an ideal configuration for attaching vehicles to the gantry for mobilization. The unique structure of the NIST Robocrane provides a powerful platform which can accommodate the execution of diversified tasks due to its exceptionally high payload to vehicle mass ratio, ease of payload manipulation, outstanding mobility characteristics (tested on a smooth surface), and compact packaging for transport. A 2-meter and a 6-meter version of the Robocrane have been built and critical performance characteristics and control methods analyzed. This robot, being able to rotate the legs independently about the upper triangle, is well suited for traveling over rough terrain and doing work such as construction or soil sampling on other planets. In 1992, the 2-meter Robocrane was exhibited at the Lunar Rover Expo, at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D. C.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the Space '94 Conference
Conference Dates
February 28-March 3, 1994
Conference Location
Albuquerque, NM
Conference Title
Space '94 Conference


compact, deployable, lightweight, lunar rover, Stewart Platform, three legs, triangle


Bostelman, R. , Albus, J. , Murphy, K. , Tsai, T. and Amatucci, E. (1994), A Stewart Platform Lunar Rover, Proceedings of the Space '94 Conference, Albuquerque, NM, [online], (Accessed April 16, 2024)
Created March 3, 1994, Updated February 17, 2017