Robotic Prospector For Minerals Research Paper Sample

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Technique, Robot, Robotics, Soil, Time, Space, Human, Moon

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2021/02/15

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In order to search for in situ minerals, robots provide more sustainable option, as compared to the same role played by human beings. In the search of either alien world, which NASA says that it happens to be closing in now, to prospecting satellites and planets for minerals, robots have an indispensable role. Robots have been researched to be deployed at moon or mars in search of in situ minerals, which can sustain an establishment of human settlement. Deploying humans for a similar role is risky and loosing an astronaut means much more than losing an invaluable life. Not only has the country loosed a human being, but also an invaluable life, a heavily trained and knowledgeable resource and an irreparable loss, to family, to technology and to the country as a whole. (Khatib, 1986).
Deployment of a robot in a similar role signifies that even of the robot is lost in the expedition, the robot can be rebuilt with a better design, building on the learning from the previous research. Extensive research has been conducted on developing such robots in the capacity of creating and developing the machines which could undertake prospective mining of minerals. (Glass & Briggs, 2003). In these lines of development, the important area of research and interest is that how would the robot determine that what to prospect next. Several strategies have been proposed in the prospecting and the chief ones will be discussed in this research. Most important prospecting strategy which would be covered is the techniques called adaptive cluster sampling (ACS). This is so because this prospects have various desirable qualities, majorly the reduction of the total mission time and better optimization in terms of higher yield and efficiency. The rest of the research paper is organized in the manner as recommended best practice for researches in the advanced topics like robotics (Saunders et. al, 2007). Broad research Objectives will be mentioned. A Literature review will be conducted to ascertain the state-of-art development technology in prospective robotics engineering. The purpose of this research, in order to add value to the available knowledge in robotics will be stated in the relevant sections. Research methodology will be provided, followed by the analysis and discussion of the research findings. The paper will be concluded by the summary of findings along with the suggested future road map in the development of this technology, based on the findings. (Khatib, 1986).

Research Objectives

The Objectives of the research is to determine that which strategy is the best in prospective robotics. Few strategies will be considered like Adaptive Cluster Sampling (ACS) and it will be ascertained whether prospecting for minerals is best driven through the ACS.

Literature Review

A brief literature review is conducted in this context of prospecting for minerals using robots. Literature Review helps in determining the current status of the research in the domain of robotics. There is a standard best practice which must be followed in engineering research. Since this research is deductive research rather than an exploratory one, so the literature review is conducted from the initial stage up to the advanced stages in the research. The research process itself is iterative, where the literature review is conducted as an upward spiral as indicated in the below diagram. This method helps to accurately and fruitfully conduct the robotics research in the context of the prospecting for minerals. (Carlson, 1991). It incorporates the existing knowledge in the domain, so that conducting the research in already researched area does not add any values as the topics have already been researched. As in this present context, the researcher seeks to add a value to already researched areas to make the whole process more worthwhile. (Saunders, 2007).
Researchers have already suggested that the exploring of the landscapes of Moon and Mars would require extensive search and tremendous amounts of resources. One way as suggested by the researchers are the orbiting satellite round the Moon and Mars so as to do the remote sensing. This is also one way to conduct the sampling of the landscapes based on the data collected through scanning through remote cameras from the space-satellites orbiting the planet or moon. However, there is lack of accuracy in such processes. Other way as suggested by researchers is to send a manned mission to the moon. The astronauts will be trained to search the areas to dig and bring the required material which could help to determine if the settlement of humans will be possible at those landscapes. However, there are there own limitations as space expedition, which requires sending a manned mission is not only too costly as it needs extensive training of the people to be sent, but it is far too risky. (Glass & Briggs, 2003). It also requires specialized crafts and space stations to be built which would enable the travel by human being. Another concern is that the space-craft needs to be brought back to earth as it cannot be a one way trip. This involves a double risk and to mitigate such risks remarkable amount of resources need to be spent. Other researchers have suggested using robots to perform the same tasks. One advantage is that it is not necessary that it can be a one way trip and a robot can also be stationed and performs the prospecting till the complete life time and possibly send the images. Some researchers have suggested that the robot must be trained to move autonomously over rough terrain, which can negotiate steep slopes, crevasses, tunnels, caves and other difficult terrains. The object of such robot is to collect the rock samples there and bring those samples back. So it is a two way trip however with a lesser risk. The researchers have also suggested that the robots should have the capabilities to drill the landscapes in order to collect the samples. Furthermore the robot should be able to collect the samples in different operations like crushing, scraping and picking. The collected sample need to be stored safely and brought back. However, the researchers suggest that it does not help just to drill and dig anywhere and bring the sample. As a trained astronaut would do, the robot should follow an intelligent search technique so as to dog and drill at the proper areas, which could lead to the desired results. Bringing lots of similar samples would actually waste the time of the costly mission. Certain techniques have been suggested in the form of intelligent sampling which the robot should be programmed to follow.

Purpose of the Research

Based on the valuable insights from the fruitful Literature Review, it is clear that there are certain areas in this context which have already been researched well. Therefore the object of the current research is to find the optimal search technique in the prospective mining. The techniques should be very well designed and programmable, with the ability to be tested extensively, before it could be ideally adopted and implemented in the actual mission. In this context, the technique of adoptive cluster sapling is identified and the research methodology will be adopted to assist in this area. The research will be conducted to ascertain as to how far this technique would help in robotics so as to enable the robot to move autonomously over rough terrains and perform this technique in parallel. Moreover this technique has to be feasible and enabling in terms of the robotics operations when negotiating steep slopes, crevasses, tunnels, caves and other difficult terrains in the interest of collect rock samples. With this technique, the robot should avoid picking repeatedly the same samples while performing drilling and crushing rock. The actual picking-up, and storing needs to be performed in distinct manner. Also, it should be possible to undertake selective and accurate chemical analysis of the sample composition, wherever possible, during that time.

Research Methodology

This is an deductive research process and majority of the process is based on the testing and deduction that the technique can be implemented optimally as desired. Unlike exploratory researches which require searching the primary resources to conduct surveys or depending too much on the published works, this research is based more on the empirical testing and analyzing of the results. Therefore the research process is an iterative one, where several tests would be conducted and the results deduced every time till the optimization is reached. The testing must be highly accurate in the experimentation of the techniques and there is no scope of mistakes and ambiguity in the robotics related to space mission. Another important facet of space robotics is the ability of the robot for self-destruction, As an erroneous robot can cause extreme destruction in the space-ship on transit, so the irreparable robotic error should lead to self destruction rather than damage causing sever hazard. This is important as the robotics would be programmed in the operation close to the human operations and abilities, although the programming is limited to digging and exploring of the landscapes.

Analysis and Discussion

Various sampling techniques were tested including the conventional sampling techniques to select the next sample in the Martian and the lunar landscapes, for the purpose of drilling and collecting the samples. These techniques were known as simple random sampling, raster sampling and stratified random sampling. However, the analysis suggests that these sampling techniques took more time in collecting the samples to the desired levels. For instance, the raster sampling technique required more travelling time by a robot to collect the desired samples. This is so because the sampling is conducted at uniform intervals which means that the total sampling time is much more as compared to other techniques. (Hansen & Hurwitz, 1943). The sampling technique of Simple Random Sampling (SRS) conducts the sampling, or collects the samples at the random sample of locations. However, the minerals are deposited in the rocks in clusters. Collecting samples from the locations using random sampling techniques is not an optimal way for prospecting in mining. This also results in inaccurate or futile sample collection as the sample collected may either be duplicate or undesirable. The third technique of stratified d random sampling technique requires pre-knowledge of the mineral deposition. Only then it can work properly. Without the proper knowledge of the location of minerals, this technique is not precise and it wastes the expensive time in the mission. There is remote possibility of accurate knowledge of minerals in the alien landscapes.
Therefore, the technique chosen and recommended for prospecting for minerals in the alien landscapes using robotics, should be ideal which can be optimized in the search. One such adaptive cluster sampling technique. This technique adapts dynamically using the program. If the analysis shows that the desired mineral exists in the sample explored, using some chemical analysis, then the next search will be directed in the same cluster. The next prospecting in the same cluster in the grid results in better sample and saves the travel and collection time. Only it requires an accurate chemical analysis. This process returns higher mineral yield and more efficiency in producing the desired results.


Several techniques in prospecting of mineral using robotics in alien landscapes like Mars or lunar landscape had been studied and analyzed in this research. The results show that for the purpose of prospecting in mining for minerals, the overall optimization can be achieved by using the Adaptive Cluster sampling (ACS) Technique. This helps in the optimizaiton of the search as the robot moves autonomously over rough terrain having steep slopes, crevasses, tunnels or caves. This method yields the maximum mineral yields from the rock samples obtained by drilling, crushing rock, picking and chemically analyzing through this sampling technique.


Glass, B. and Briggs, G. (2003). Evaluation of human vs. teleoperated robotic performance in field geology tasks at a Mars analog site. In Proc. 7th i-SAIRAS-03,
Carlson, C. A. (1991). Spatial distribution of ore deposits. Geology, 19(2):111–114, Cressie, N. A. C. (1993). Statistics for Spatial Data. Wiley, NY, 2nd edition,.
Hansen, M. M. and Hurwitz, W. N. (1943). On the theory of sampling from finite populations. Ann. Math. Stat., 14(4):333–362,. Khatib, O. (1986). Real-time obstacle avoidance for manipulators and mobile robots. Int. J. Robot. Res., 5(1):90–98,.
Saunders T., Lewis P. and Thornhill A. (2007) Research Methods for Business Students. 5th Ed, Pearson Education.

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