Venus is closer to Earth than Mars, but because it’s a hellhole that’s unforgiving to rovers, we still don’t know much about its surface. NASA and JPL recently launched a heroX design contest for mechanical sensors that would help its AREE (automaton rover for extreme environments) detect and avoid rough terrain. It recently picked the winner, and said it received such an “incredible” response from the community that it added two finalists and 10 honorable mention entries.
The $15,000 winner, “Venus Feelers,” uses triple-wheeled front “feelers” to help the rover avoid large rocks, steep slopes and holes. It does all that using pendulums, cams, rollers, levers, springs and flexible shafts, with no fragile hydraulics or electronic sensors in sight. It was designed by Egyptian architect and product designer Youseef Ghali, who summarized it as “back to basics from a new point of view.”