Italian and Chinese scientists have jointly invented a prototype robotics system for Moon exploration, professor Carlo Ghezzi of the Polytechnic University of Milan (PUM) told a visiting Chinese journalist delegation in Milan.
"The prototype robots are under control test," Ding Xilun, a Chinese professor who heads the Space Robots Laboratory of the Beijing University of Aerospace and Aeronautics, confirmed to Xinhua in a telephone interview on Sunday.
He said that current research was being centered on intelligence control and communication.
The project was initiated in 2004 with Alberto Rovetta, director of the Robot Lab of PUM's Mechanic Department.
Besides the prototype, scientists have also completed system design, structure design, sampling arm, sensors selection, locomotion planning and simulation of lunar environment.
The Novel Robotic System for Space Exploration, or "NOROS-1" for short, involves a robot family with one host robot and four assistants.
Upon the project's completion in 2008, these robots, each measuring 40 to 80 cm in diameters and weighing 12 to 30 kilograms, would be equipped with a wheel/leg locomotion system which allow them to move as they want and respond to the land situation on the Moon.
These intelligent robots would cooperate with each other like human beings and remain unaffected by the malfunction of other robots.
Ding said that the final test of the whole system would be conducted in Beijing.
"Once the products are put to use, there will be an automatic robotic system on the Moon to manage and improve satellite communication. They can also be used to explore the environment of the Moon and collect soil samples on the Moon," he added.
The research program has been listed into the Sino-Italian Science and Technology Cooperation Plan in early January.