Control Moment Gyroscope (CMG) Rover

Image credit: SaiAdiVishnu Sanigepalli, Stephan Zerhusen

Image credit: SaiAdiVishnu Sanigepalli, Stephan Zerhusen

The goal of the project is to develop a rover that can explore extreme terrain. To achieve this goal, we are researching and developing a polyhedral rover with an internal single gimbal control moment gyroscope array (SGCMG). The rover rolls from side to side for locomotion. There is no interaction between the actuators and its environment because it uses an internal system for movement, eliminating the risk of actuator failure from terrain interaction. At the corners of the rover, spikes or gripping pads are used to allow for even greater traction on various surfaces. Our research is focused on a 10 to 20 kg rover similar to the size of the Mars rover Sojourner, but it can be scaled to different sizes depending on the mission.

SGCMGs are extremely power-efficient with respect to torque output, due to a phenomena called torque amplification. Torque amplification allows the SGCMG to output a high amount of torque with little input torque by the gimbal motors. As a consequence, only relatively small rotors and motors are needed to create the torque required, decreasing the power usage of the system.


The final rover can explore many celestial bodies in our solar system. The power- and torque-efficient internal momentum control system and the novel chassis design make this rover reliable, power-efficient and terrain-adaptable, allowing for a long mission lifetime. The rover could explore previously unexplored areas, like the surface of Europa and Enceladus. It could also explore currently inaccessible valleys, crags, and rock beds on Mars. Exploring these areas could help discover water content, microbes, mineral content, among others.