The Canadian Space Agency has rolled out a fleet of about a half-dozen prototype rovers that are the forerunners of vehicles that may one day explore the moon or Mars.
There are knee-high mini-rovers that can work side-by-side, helping astronauts to dig or scout out small spaces like caves. There are also larger rovers, like a six-wheeled lunar exploration version, which can be upgraded to transport astronauts around the moon.
The space agency says the terrestrial rovers bring it one step closer to developing the next generation for space exploration. But an agency official says it'll be some time yet before the final versions of the robotic workhorses leave the planet for distant destinations.
Gilles Leclerc, the agency's director-general of space exploration, says he's looking at a horizon of 2020 for transferring the technology into a real mission to the moon or Mars.
MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associated (MDA) and Neptec Design Group are the prime contractors on several of the rovers.