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So I my question is quite simple. With current technology or technology that we are likely to gain this century would it be easier for Lunar colonization programs to develop wheeled vehicles or walkers for simply economic purposes, ie. for mining, traveling, and transporting goods. On top of that what are the programs more likely to try and develop despite what advantages on vehicle may have over the other. Also, Treaded vehicles are allowed. Now I am NOT talking about the far future, I am limiting the scope of this discussion to the end of the 21st century. Speed of the vehicles doesn't matter.

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The answer to this is the same as it is for Earth; wheeled vehicles (in the main) are far more energy efficient and versatile than either tracked or walker style vehicles.

How do we know this? Cars. Cars are not tracked because it's far more efficient to create wheels in the form they currently exist. Tracks increase friction with the ground and can be useful where there is a lot of mud or other conditions that will bog a wheel with low surface area contact with the ground, but the Moon doesn't have that problem and the Apollo program got along perfectly fine with the rovers they sent up there.

Walkers generally don't exist on Earth (and wouldn't on the moon) because they are problematic from an engineering point of view, would struggle if one of their legs got 'bogged' (sunk into a weak spot of dust, for instance), and are inconvenient to operate as you need some way to get to the main pod that probably involves a ladder. They may have some strategic benefit in rugged terrain, but generally speaking your colonists are going to see such situations as edge cases. For transport and most light industrial purposes, wheels will be what they use.

The important point to note is that the lower gravity, lack of water and atmosphere, and general hostility of environment has (at best) a negligible impact on the physics of mobility, including things like energy efficiency, ease of maintenance, etc. As such, you can safely model what you do on the Moon by what we do here on Earth.

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    $\begingroup$ Low gravity does have some effects. I agree they're minor, but low gravity will reduce traction. Lack of water will mean no mud or snow to get stuck in. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Aug 27 '18 at 5:23
  • $\begingroup$ Lack of atmosphere of course means no internal combustion engine, just electrics. It also means no air drag whatsoever so there is no need for aerodynamics but it also means no down force except due to gravity. $\endgroup$ – GretchenV Aug 27 '18 at 8:47
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    $\begingroup$ The cost of getting to the moon in the near future will mean any form of transport will have to be reliable as it will be difficult and expensive to get spares. A complex walker is unlikely to meet this requirement, whereas an electric car probably would. $\endgroup$ – Slarty Aug 27 '18 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ Would it not be more efficient to fly? Just overcome the weak 1/6 gravity, or, for long distances, accelerate into low orbit, decelerate to land, using 'conventional' rocket propulsion? $\endgroup$ – Martin James Aug 28 '18 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ I mean, well, 'low orbit' would mean just 'not hit the mountains', right? $\endgroup$ – Martin James Aug 28 '18 at 13:54
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Astronauts found that the most efficient mode of lunar transportation was hopping.

astronaut jumping https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-27575665-astronaut-jumping-on-moon-landing-earth-background

It stands to reason that augmenting this mode of travel would make the most sense. Lunar colonists will travel by pogo-stick.

pogo sticks http://pogo.hivefly.com/vurtego-v4/

Hopping transportation offers many benefits. The need for traction is negligible, so reduced gravity and dusty / slippery surfaces are less of an impediment. The footprint of the pogo stick is small, allowing easy transit over rough terrain. Most forward motion occurs in the air, clearing obstacles. Bouncing transportation maximizes the use of human muscles in a low-G environment.

Motorized pogo-sticks could have electrical augmentation of the downstroke of the spring, allowing even more radical and long distance jumps.

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  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting, each time you answer my questions you give answers that I simply wouldn't expect but, after second glance, turn out to be pretty reasonable. I see how useful this is for pedestrian transport but I still need something different for light and heavy industrial vehicles. $\endgroup$ – skout Aug 27 '18 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ Not convinced. A lunar pogo-stick would spend more time out-of-contact with the ground, but the moment imparted by, say, a bad impact with hard, sloping rock just under the surface, would be the same as you might expect on earth. Instead of a short fall and small risk of serious injury, it's more likely that you will fly up, rotate and land next head-first:( $\endgroup$ – Martin James Aug 28 '18 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ Pretty certain there’s a Chinese lunar probe designed around this concept... $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Aug 28 '18 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ My apologies: it’s an Israeli team. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Aug 28 '18 at 17:46

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