Mars Rover NXT/VEX Robot with Rocker-Bogie Suspension

One comment

[Submitted by Fealves78 from the ROBOTC forums]

Fealves78 submitted an incredible looking Mars Rover robot using (eek!) a combination of both NXT and VEX parts.

Both the robot and the the joystick are controlled by NXT bricks. The robot also uses 6 regular motors, 6 servos, a VEX Camera, and a set of Vex Lights.

Here is a new video of the robot being demonstrated at the National Space Foundation. The robot can go over rocks too!

Rocker-Bogie Suspension

Rocker-Bogie Suspension (Source

The Rocker-Bogie suspension is actually a popular setup, and was used for the Mars Rover (hence, the robot name!) robot. It’s still favored by NASA in their MARS robots.

The suspension is coined “Rocker” because of its rocking aspect of the larger links in the system. The two sides of the chassis are connected via a differential. This allows each “rocker” to be able to move up and down independent of each other. Thus, this system allows the robot to drive over uneven terrain as well as rocks.

The word “Bogie” actually refers to the links that have a drive wheel at each end. Bogies were commonly used as load wheels in the tracks of army tanks as idlers distributing the load over the terrain. Bogies were also quite commonly used on the trailers of semi trailer trucks.

[See more at the Rocker-Bogie page at Wikipedia]

Here’s a video of the robot running over a grassy area:

What inspired you to build the robot?

I am a graduate Computer Science student and robotics is one of my interests. I am teaching robotics for kids in Colorado Springs through Trailblazer Elementary School. My students’ age range from 6 to 11 years old, and this is the first year that they were studying with me. We were inspired to build the Mars Rover robot by the Space Foundation – SF, which is located in Colorado Springs, CO. Through a grant with Boeing, the Space Foundation has donated 2 NXT robotics kit to our school, and I myself gave the Vex Kit for the students. Then, the SF challenged us to build a demo robot using some of the materials they have provided and the Mars Rover was our first big project.

How long did it take to build the robot?

The students spent about a week researching the design of the robot structure. It took 2 weeks to put it together and 2 more weeks to program the robot using Robot C. We also used the NXTSERVO-V2 form to control the robot’s 12 motors, 2 Lights, and camera.

What are your future plans with the robot?

All the work that we are doing is volunteer work. We started with one teacher and one school (Trailblazer) and 16 kids in the beginning of 2011. Now, with the help of graduate students from Colorado Technical University – CTU, the IEEE chapter from that school, and help from companies like the Space Foundation and MITRE, we are expanding to 40 kids and 3 schools by the end of the year. We are also willing to help teachers from Elementary, Middle, and High schools, who are willing to take robotics to the classroom as means to facilitate science to their students and to motivate them towards STEM education. Most of the schools have neither materials nor budget to start a robotics club. We are surviving with small donations and volunteer work. If you or anyone is interested in helping, please let us know.

In the little time we have been working with these kids both their regular teachers and parents are noticing improvement in the kid’s interest towards science and in their grades. For us, the CTU volunteers (students and IEEE members), this is a way to gain work experience and give back to the community.

Written by Vu Nguyen

June 6th, 2011 at 10:57 am

Posted in Cool projects,NXT,VEX