The Yak Rover project is an effort by the Yak Collective to create an open-source rover design capable of actually being deployed on Mars by 2031. We are betting that radically declining launch costs, and increasingly capable infrastructure on Mars and the Moon (such as shared communications relay or charging facilities) could open up the possibility of an open-source space program based on low-cost rovers.
Rover technology is also strongly aligned with terrestrial autonomous robot technology, in applications such as package delivery, search-and-rescue, and elder-care. The inputs required for these applications, such as efficient batteries, advanced motors, and robust software stacks, are increasingly becoming commoditized and low-cost, lowering barriers to entry. We believe open-source pursuit of the demanding engineering capabilities required for space applications will have significant spin-off benefits for these other applications, and allow independent makers and consultants to develop the kinds of skills that are currently limited to members of advanced corporate and government research laboratories.
Pilot Year: Five Hobby-Scale Builds
Our Pilot Year is devoted to exploration, learning and discovery in the form of a “build party.” Individual Yak Rover team members are aiming to build a set of simple hobby-scale rovers of varied designs, and meeting weekly to share learnings and discuss technical challenges. The goal is to build a foundation of knowledge and hands-on practical skills. Meet the five Yak Rovers (YRs) taking shape in 2021!
YR Infinity and Beyond: Based on the ESA model rover
YR Go and See: A pair of simple PiCars
YR Nature is Murder: A from-scratch rocker-bogie design