Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory have developed a proof of concept ice robot for exploring icy exoplanets.

The aptly named IceBot is a 14 lb robot encased in ice that, once deployed on other icy planets, might one day be able to use its surroundings — namely, ice — to repair itself in the event of incurring damage.

The team from the GRASP Lab has been working to develop additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques for replacing the structural components of a robot — not the batteries or the electronics — with readily available ice. While such structural components would not be available in theses environments, ice is plentiful, according to the team.

Although not structurally as solid as titanium, carbon or other material components, ice can be cut and sculpted with warm tools in the absence of readily available components, the researchers explained.

The research was recently presented at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS).

For more information on the IceBot, watch the accompanying video that appears courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania GRASP Lab.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com