The autonomous Mars copter

The speech:

More details on kiwipedia:

After decades of rumors about such a thing, which no-one took seriously, it was finally included on the next Mars rover. The finer details had a few shockers.  It uses solar charged lithium batteries, coaxial blades, has no blade shroud, & no obvious way to right itself.  It weighs 4 pounds & looks quite top heavy.  It's basically the exact opposite of a copter you'd expect to be sent to Mars.

The equivalent atmospheric density on Mars is 100,000ft on Earth or 3x higher than the highest a copter has ever flown on Earth.  A quad copter would not be efficient enough to do the job.  It's inevitably going to crash & roll over, so apparently this simple use of long legs is able to recover without human intervention.  Maybe the blades can kick it upright long enough to get going or it can tumble down a hillside until it reaches a flat spot.  There are still many ways it can get stuck, so it needs a major investment in autonomous programming which can avoid getting stuck.


The dark, blurry footage from JPL shows the solar panel on top of the blades blocking airflow, no obvious use of a flybar, & lots of vicon balls for tracking position.  You'd think a solar panel below the blades would allow more lift & get dusted off by the airflow.

A copter that could travel great distances on solar power & recover from crashes is what we all wanted, 40 years ago.  The solution seems so simple, it makes you wonder why China didn't already give hobbyists such a thing.  

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones