How many self-respecting, tech-loving space nerds don’t want to get their hands on their very own version of a Mars rover? A team of engineers from Poland’s Wroclaw University of Technology — who previously won multiple prizes for their development of Mars rover prototypes — is hoping the answer is “none.” That’s because they’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign for something called the Turtle Rover, a remote-controlled vehicle that promises to give you the experience of piloting a space buggy on the Red Planet, only without the cost of actually getting there.
“Turtle Rover is a NASA-inspired, four-wheeled platform which can easily work in almost any type of terrain on Earth: Grass, forest, stones, or even in the water,” Marcin Twardak, co-founder of Turtle Rover, told Digital Trends. “It’s completely dust- and waterproof. What’s most exciting [is that] the platform is open source, [meaning] we share source code, circuit diagrams and mechanical documentation. Thanks to that, everyone can adapt the platform to their own needs.”
The vehicle is controlled via a mobile app, which uses Wi-Fi to communicate to distances of up to 650 feet. As with many drones on the market, you can control the vehicle by seeing the world from its perspective — courtesy of a front-facing HD camera. Through the app, you can also control the Turtle Rover’s robot gripper arm, although you can also modify it yourself to add other third-party accessories.
“We believe Turtle Rover is an amazing opportunity for makers,” Twardak said. “Now, if you want to learn programming on some serious hardware, you don’t have too much to choose from. There are some products available on the market, but there is not a single one complex enough to both provide all the hardware and that could be used outdoors.
“If you want to test your electronics, software or other hardware in real-world conditions you need to buy industrial platforms, which are extremely expensive and still need extra equipment to run. We believe the people — geeks and makers — will create a community around Turtle Rovers, and together we’ll build this new segment of the robotics market. It’s the supporters who will tell us what to develop and what to suppress, and discover where to use the platform in real life.”
Turtle Rover is currently available for pre-order on Kickstarter, where it will set you back 1,547 euros ($1,838) for a completed version with battery and Raspberry Pi microcontroller. Shipping is set to take place next June.