Origami Inspired PUFFER Robots Designed by NASA to Explore Extreme Terrain

Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robots (PUFFER) are origami-inspired robots designed by NASA to explore extreme terrain. The resilient robots can reach areas traditional rovers cannot, and be deployed in groups as a more affordable option than large robots. PUFFERs can adjust the angle of their wheels to gain better traction on slopes, or to lower their profile to fit under obstacles, meaning they could be a valuable exploration option for future missions.

Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robots, or PUFFER, is a small, origami-inspired robotic technology under development to provide a low-volume, low-cost mission enhancement for accessing new science from extreme terrains that are of high interest to future NASA missions. A “pop-up” robot that folds into a small, smartphone-sized weight and volume, PUFFER’s compact design means numerous robots can be packed into a larger “parent” craft at a low payload cost, then deployed on a planet’s surface individually to increase surface mobility.