NASA commissioned a study on the feasibility of using little smallish tractor bots to prep a lunar outpost before the humans show up, and the research seems to show it as a good idea. The theoretical plan is for 330 pound mower-sized bots to show up on the moon and prep the surface for actual buildings, landing sites, roads and so forth. The robots are basically glorified tractors (or perhaps simplified tractors) so lunarnauts shouldn't expect a palace by the time they show up -- just a bunch of displaced dirt. Berms seem to be a big theme of construction, since a sort of "blast shield" is needed to make sure debris from takeoff and landing don't damage the actual settlement.

[Via ComputerWorld; warning: PDF read link]

NASA ruminating a robot-built lunar outpost to make way for manned missions

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NASA ruminating a robot-built lunar outpost to make way for manned missions