Fleets of smart robots could work on the lunar surface. (Image Credit: OffWorld)
OffWorld, a California-based start-up company, has some big plans to build a fleet of smart robots that could mine distant asteroids, moons, and planets in the solar system for resources. Such resources could include water ice and even minerals. Their goal is extractions from the Earth’s moon.
The company already claims to have some Fortune 500 companies investing in their project to use the robots on Earth for mining. Even though the technology is still in the early stages of development, OffWorld plans on going even further with it.
It’s still too soon to make any launch dates or plans to send the robots to distant worlds, but they could also be useful for NASA’s astronauts in the future when they set foot on the moon in 2024. Currently, the company is developing robots to operate in mines, construction sites, tunnels, and other infrastructure scenarios. Ultimately, the goal is to have the fleet of smart robots deployed on the moon sometime before NASA astronauts set foot on the surface.
OffWorld’s “master plan” involves using smart robots that are small, solar-powered, and autonomous. The company also states that the robots would use machine learning to do most of, if not all, of the heavy work when preparing settlements for humans. They also plan on using the robots to extract water ice for applications, such as creating drinkable water for humans and producing rocket fuel.
As stated in the plan, “We have started from the beginning and are currently focusing on developing the first generation of our mining robots for the terrestrial mining sector.”
The robots would also have a modular construction, allowing different parts of the industrial machine to be used for different types of robots, in space or on the ground. At a later time, the swarms of robots could also self-replicate by constructing other robots with resources on the moon, Mars or some other world.
As it stands now, the team has 26 people working on the project and is seeing continuous growth. To help with lunar extractions of water, OffWorld has stated they’re in the process of building an office in Luxembourg, a country well-known for space-resource development.
Space industry engineers and coders will also have the opportunity to become heavily involved in the development of the robot fleet. OffWorld plans on opening up a “marketplace” sometime next year to unveil interfaces and outputs that will work with customers around the globe.
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