NASA Hosting $1.5 Million Autonomous Rover Contest
May 24, 2012 5:45 PM
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NASA Mars Rover Curiosity
The competition will be held June 16, where NASA will award prize money based on how well the robots complete phase two
NASA is holding a competition for the creation of autonomous rovers in Massachusetts next month, which will ideally be used for
in the future.
The competition, called the Sample Return Robot Challenge, will allow private and public teams to compete in a contest for the best autonomous robot for future space missions. NASA is spending $1.5 million total on the contest, which will be held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.
NASA is looking for a team that can create an unmanned, smaller robot that is approximately 1.5 cubic meters and 175 pounds. The winning robot must be able to explore many types of environments, search for specific items and collect them. However, the robot cannot use GPS or an internet connection because these kinds of systems are restricted to Earth. It also cannot use air-cooling or ultrasonic rangefinders because of the lack of air in other planetary environments.
Phase one of the challenge is to have each of the competing robots collect a sample within a quarter of an hour. When this task is successfully completed, robots can move on to phase two, where they are expected to collect 10 separate samples in just two hours and return them to a certain area.
There are currently 11 final teams that will compete. Some of the contenders include the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Waterloo, SpacePRIDE, and True Vision. All teams are U.S. and Canada-based.
NASA is ultimately looking for an autonomous rover that can be sent on planetary missions in the future to collect certain items in varied terrains.
Last May, NASA bid farewell to its
Mars rover named Spirit
, which spent six years exploring Mars before falling silent for an entire year and finally being put to rest. Later, in November 2011, NASA launched a new Mars rover called Curiosity to the Red Planet in an effort to continue exploring the Martian surface.
NASA rover Curiosity
is a $2.5 billion nuclear-powered machine meant for the exploration of Mars in hopes of finding evidence of microscopic life. It is the size of a Mini Cooper, and about four times as heavy as the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers. Curiosity has a large robot arm, a weather station, a laser that can vaporize rocks at seven meters, a percussive drill, and 4.8kg of plutonium-238.
The competition will be held June 16, where NASA will award prize money based on how well the robots complete phase two.
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I rather see swarms of probes
5/25/2012 10:47:32 AM
"MIT engineers and scientist colleagues have a new vision for the future of Mars exploration: a swarm of probes, each the size of a baseball, spreading out across the planet in every direction.
Thousands of probes, powered by fuel cells, could cover a vast area now beyond the reach of today's rovers, including exploring remote and rocky terrain that large rovers cannot navigate."
RE: I rather see swarms of probes
5/25/2012 12:57:22 PM
Thanks fo the link, very interesting!
Why the confusing units?
5/28/2012 9:15:32 AM
smaller robot that is approximately 1.5 cubic meters and 175 pounds
Is that 175 pounds of force on Earth or on Mars? Why give the spatial dimensions in metric units and the mass in English units? Since NASA has used metric measurements exclusively since 1990, I would think they likely gave the mass limit in kilograms. Isn't this how Lockheed Martin caused the crash of the Mars Climate Orbiter?
"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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