NASA Plans Levitating Robot Train on Moon

The project is part of the agency's Innovative Advanced Concepts program, established to develop "science fiction-like" projects for future space exploration

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

May 14, 2024

1 Min Read
Artist concept of the FLOAT system

NASA has announced a plan to build the “first lunar railway system” – an autonomous system to transport goods across the moon’s surface, which the agency said would be critical to the daily operations of a lunar base.

The project, called "Flexible Levitation on a Track" (FLOAT), comes under NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program (NIAC), which has the stated aim of developing "science fiction-like" projects for future space exploration.

The proposed FLOAT system would use unpowered magnetic robots that “levitate” over a flexible graphite film track, propelled by magnetic force. As these robots are designed without wheels or legs, the team said they would not face the problem of dust abrasion or general wear and tear over time.

The track would also come with a solar panel layer to generate power from sunlight. 

“FLOAT will operate autonomously in the dusty, inhospitable lunar environment with minimal site preparation,” NASA said. “Its network of tracks can be rolled up/reconfigured over time to match evolving lunar base mission requirements.”

The FLOAT project has entered its second phase, during which NASA plans to design, manufacture and test a series of sub-scale robot and track prototypes, investigate environmental impacts such as temperature and radiation on system performance and longevity and continue refining simulations of the systems.

Related:Nokia, NASA to Launch 4G on the Moon

According to the agency, the system could be in operation from the 2030s.

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

Sign Up for the Newsletter
The most up-to-date news and insights into the latest emerging technologies ... delivered right to your inbox!

You May Also Like