As its name suggest, the MGUV is a modular vehicle designed to be the primary utility vehicle on Mars. It is a 6-wheeled, all-electric drive, battery-powered vehicle. Designed to perform multiple roles, such as a bus for mass transport, a science/exploratory/survey vehicle or even as a cargo truck, all in a single universal chassis. It is designed to be autonomous, but can be driven manually when required. The MGUV is the bigger version of the MLTV
, from which both vehicles share a large degree of characteristics.
The vehicle is divided into 5 major components. These are:
1. Driver’s Cabin
2. Airlock Chamber
3. Utility or Mission Module
4. Main Platform or Chassis (Suspension included)
5. Mobility Components (Wheels & their respective electric motors in the wheel hub)
MATERIALS & MANUFACTURING/FABRICATION
As with the smaller MLTV, the vehicle will use materials with high strength-to-weight ratios, while being light, & importantly, be recyclable.
The vehicle will be fabricated in a multi-layered shell configuration. In this case, the outer & inner shells will use thermoplastics such as Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
, or Polyethylene (PE)
, either UHMWPE
type, (though PET would be the primary candidate due to its radiation protective qualities).
Radiation Chart: https://www.rtpcompany.com/technical-info/chemical-resistance/
This will be supported by a double-layered skeleton frame using aluminum alloys: Silumin, Alusil or 6061 Aluminum alloy for increased structural strength. A radiation shielding material will be sandwiched between these 2 skeleton frames.
The point of using these materials serves two(2) purposes:
1. Lowered weight with high strength.
These materials chosen would be easy to recycle, which means, once recycling & production facilities for these vehicles are set in place on Mars, any vehicle or its component that is too worn or damaged, can be recycled, melted & reused in the fabrication of new parts or vehicles, or even housing shelters for the Martian community.
The initial batch of these vehicles will be fabricated on Earth, & be sent to Mars in parts or modules for assembly, or be sent as completed vehicles. However, by the time recycling plants, refineries, etc., all necessary facilities for the construction of these vehicles on Mars are in place, then it’s just a matter of shifting manufacturing responsibilities of these vehicles to the Martian colony.
The components/modules will be built with a plug-&-play or Lego-styled assembly feature, allowing a simplified assembly process once the parts arrive on Mars. This makes the vehicle easy to repair & maintain, allowing high reliability, as each worn or damaged component can just be swapped for a spare component, or a component from another vehicle. Additionally, both the MLTV & MGUV have a high part commonality, parts such as the seats, doors, lights, batteries, even their navigational equipment can be swapped between vehicle types.
MGUV size when assembled: Length
– 7.92m, Width
– 4.17m, Height
The vehicle is battery-powered, with the batteries carried in easy-to-access compartments in the chassis. These power all the electrical systems on the vehicle, including the electric motors, lights, navigational computer, and temperature control and life support systems.
Currently, the best candidates for the battery would be graphene-based batteries, which have higher power densities than Li-ion batteries. Although newer, more efficient batteries will be selected once they have been developed. In addition to the batteries, solar cells may also be mounted to augment the battery source, these include thin-film solar cells on the roof, and transparent photovoltaic cells developed in 2013 that can be laid over the vehicle windows, these which absorb IR & UV radiation & converting it to electricity. Due to lesser amount of sunlight received by Mars compared to Earth, the solar cells are primarily meant to allow the batteries to last a little longer.
Transparent Solar Cells
is provided by 6 wheel hub mounted electric motors, running large-diameter,
all-rubber wheels. Each wheel & motor assembly is attached to 1 of 6 independent
torsion suspensions. This allows a comfortable ride even when managing bumps or
irregularities on the Martian surface. The batteries allow the vehicle to
operate for an estimated 5-24hrs, depending on the distance of its destination,
speed of travel, or the role it is being used for, as well as the load carried.
switch between 6x4 drive, or 6x6 drive, automatically or manually, depending on
terrain or other requirements such as vehicle load carried.
torsion suspension is chosen because it takes less internal space, as well as
its ease of repair.
its size, the vehicle is highly stable, due to its low center of gravity, as
well as its wide wheel spacing. Furthermore, its mobility gives it an
all-terrain aspect on Mars, as it doesn't have to require roads to get where it
needs to go.
event the vehicle does get stuck in a sand trap, the MGUV’s integrated
Skid/Jack system comes into play. The affected wheel(s) can be lifted by the
S/J system, while the other wheels push the vehicle, effectively gliding over
the sand trap & getting it unstuck. The S/J system can also be used during
maintenance, by lifting the vehicle in preparation for maintenance or
replacement of a wheel hub assembly, or simply used as a stabilization or anchoring
Additionally, if a suspension is broken in the field, the S/J system can be used as a makeshift ski, to help support the vehicle, & allow it to drive back to the colony at a slow pace.
To protect the MGUV’s occupants, radiation shielding is added into its construction. The outer thermoplastic layer & Aluminum skeleton layer would block most types of radiation, including alpha & beta rays, while an advanced polymer-based material designed in 2002, which would be matured by the time we get to Mars, will be used to protect against gamma radiation. The vehicles windows will be built using either PET or Polycarbonate (PC), with a thin coating of gold, similar to the visors worn by NASA’s astronauts.
Alternatively, transparent photovoltaic panels which absorb IR or UV light can be laid on the windows instead of the gold coating; also, PET provides a fair degree of protection from UV radiation, & a good degree of Gamma radiation protection. The PET UV radiation resistance can be further enhanced with the addition of UV stabilizing agents.
Radiation Chart for Thermoplastics
Polymer-based Radiation Shielding Material
- Modular & easy to maintain
- High part commonality/interchangeability between vehicles, including the MLTV.
- Radiation shielded
- Airlock chamber/module provides added safety, while allowing occupants in either the driver's cabin or passenger compartment to not to wear space suits whenever an occupant exits the vehicle, providing additional comfort during travels, especially if the MGUV is configured for mass transportation.
- Autonomous or Manually driven
- All-electric. 5 Battery compartments: 3 on the chassis, 2 in the Driver's cabin.
- Airtight & pressurized with integrated life support & temperature control systems.
- Ability to perform multiple roles
- Doors open inward into compartments and 4 proximity sensors on chassis for added safety.
- LIDAR System for use during autonomous driving.
- Integrated Skid/Jack Hybrid System.
- Ability to performing “Land Trains” with the Autonomous Trailers.
- Detachable overhead cover on the driver cabin. Provides additional protection for the driver against radiation exposure.
The MGUV can be configured to perform varying roles, by simply changing the module carried in the rear section of the vehicle.
Mass Transportation Module
: A module allowing transportation of 8 passengers, with overhead baggage bins. Integrated life support system can be connected to vehicle power grid.
Science, Exploration & Survey Module
: Module allowing scientific expeditions & site survey for Martian city expansion. Work in conjunction with the MLTV.
Cargo Module A:
Enclosed module allowing transportation of goods/supplies which require pressurization. Has a side mounted door for loading/offloading of cargo which require a pressurized environment when connected to a pressurized conveyor tunnel.
Cargo Module B
: Open module for the transportation of raw materials and construction supplies.
Auxiliary Power Module
: Mobile battery/capacitor. Can be connected to prepositioned solar arrays. Serves as a field recharge station, allowing other vehicles to recharge their batteries in the field without having to head back to the colony power grid to recharge.
: Allows transportation of liquid substances. Carries 3 cylindrical tanks.
: A support module, serves as a command & control center for the Autonomous Trailers. Carried on the MGUV.
: A configurable module to suit various needs.
-Configurable to function in the following roles:
-Recce/Living Room Module
MODULES WITH INTEGRATED LIFE-SUPPORT SYSTEMS
-Mass Transportation Module
-Science/Exploratory & Survey Module
Although the MGUV is already capable of performing multiple roles that can be thought of for a wheeled vehicle, thanks to its modular design. It can be further enhanced with the addition of the Autonomous Trailer. A computer-controlled, support vehicle, based on the chassis of the MGUV & MLTV, & controlled by the Command module carried by the MGUV.
It uses the same parts as the MGUV/MLTV for added commonality. As a support platform, it can carry any of the various modules designed for the MGUV. This is useful when travelling long distances, as multiple Autonomous Trailer’s (AT’s) can be connected to one another behind an MGUV, which functions as the command vehicle, each connected via a pressurized/sealed accordion, effectively forming a “Land Train”. Multiple airlocks provide increased safety in case of an atmospheric breach.
Aside from being able to function as a “Land Train”, each AT can function independently, & not need to be connected to the other trailers or the MGUV, provided it stays within range of the command module. Alternatively, the trailers can be pre-programmed to move ahead of the Command vehicle to a designated location, thanks to the integration of multiple LIDAR panels, which allows it to scan the environment & be able to negotiate/avoid obstacles.
Upon reaching the destination, the AT’s can be commanded to position itself at a designated spot, & deploy their Skid/Jack system to secure themselves in place, while providing added stability.
The Entry/Exit module is designed to be used exclusively on the Autonomous Trailer when performing a Land Train mission, allowing a secondary entry/exit for the vehicles occupants.
MGUV LAND TRAIN APPLICATIONS
MGUV Land Trains can make use of various modules loaded on the AT’s, depending on what is needed for a particular mission. Example: A Land Train meant for Mass Transportation would make use of more mass transportation modules & a few support modules configured to cater for the passengers, while a Land Train meant for scientific expeditions would require more support modules for more independent operations in the field. These Land trains can be as short as 5-7 connected units, or as long as 15 connected units,or longer. The MGUV Land Train don’t need fixed rails, saving up on resources. A Secondary Entry/Exit Module, specially designed for the Autonomous Trailer, is positioned every 3rd or 4th vehicle. Allowing extra entry/exit points for the occupants.
MGUV LAND TRAIN EMERGENCY SAFETY
In an effort to provide safety to the pasengers of an MGUV Land Train, multiple redundant emergency escape hatches are located on each airlock module, allowing the occupants to evacuate the vehicle in the least amount of time. Additionally, the additional of the airlock modules allows the sealing off of any breached primary module.
The focus of the MGUV concept, is to keep the design as modular as possible, to simplify logistical support, such as down time needed for repair and maintenance. Additionally, the vehicle’s recyclability will significantly lower our environmental impact and or footprint on Mars. The vehicles may not last forever, but they’d be recycled and reborn, like a “Martian Phoenix”.
Justin Carlo Punay