Could replacing a Rovers struts (maybe a faster one that uses shock dampers in the future) with magnets similar to a shack flashlight but more heavier duty work well for recouping energy from movement like a passive alternator? If the rover has a pendulum like a Rolex watch that recoups energy from the changing planes in the ground.

enter image description here shock absorbing alternator

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    $\begingroup$ Nope. Rovers move so slowly there's very little energy to recover, you'd add a lot of weight for no gain. $\endgroup$ – GdD May 8 '18 at 10:32

It would definitely yield some energy, but there are a few reasons this might not be feasible:

  • Mars rovers move very slowly: For Curiosity it is about 1.5 inches per second. With that not a lot of energy would be regained.
  • This method of gaining energy itself is quite ineffective. Think about how long you have to shake that flashlight to keep a tiny little LED running for a few minutes. A rover requires a lot more power for the motors, lasers and communication system.
  • It requires power converters, to transform to rover voltage and probably also some rectifiers, which make the whole thing much more complex and heavy.

And most importantly

  • It is probably much heavier than the system already in use. Since weight is a major factor in spaceflight, and probably not worth the investment.

However: there is no reason to try it out, do a paper on it and actually check the math. Maybe it would make sense. Maybe it could be used on faster moving, more critical human missions!

Spaceflight is all about trying new and unexpected things and breaking technological barriers. There is no reason a variation of this system could be used effectively in rovers.


There have been various schemes over the years for doing this. The gains are minimal. An Audi project for regenerative suspension on cars recovers about 100-150 W for a car that weighs on the order of 1500 kg traveling at 100 km/h. This is a tiny amount of energy.

Current planetary rovers have no suspension damping at all: the rocker bogie system consists of rigid elements. The elements you've circled are the steering and propulsion motors.

  • $\begingroup$ Earthbound electric cars are absolutely the right smell test for this problem. I'm impressed anyone has tried it, and I'm curious about what kind of generation rate an offroad rally car's suspension would have versus that example, which was used on German roads. $\endgroup$ – Erin Anne May 11 '18 at 2:49

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