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About the Sample Return Robot Challenge
An autonomous capability to locate and retrieve specific sample types from various locations over a wide and varied terrain and return those samples to a designated zone in a reasonable amount of time with limited mapping data.

Allied Organization:
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, MA

The Sample Return Robot Challenge is scheduled for June 2013 in Worcester, MA. The Challenge requires demonstration of an autonomous robotic system to locate and collect a set of specific sample types from a large planetary analog area and then return the samples to the starting zone. The roving area will include open rolling terrain, granular medium, soft soils, and a variety of rocks, and immovable obstacles (trees, large rocks, water hazards, etc.) A pre-cached sample and several other samples will be located in smaller sampling zones within the larger roving area. Teams will be given aerial/geological/topographic maps with appropriate orbital resolution, including the location of the starting position and a pre-cached sample.

The samples will be easily distinguished from other materials present at the site since the need for sophisticated scientific instrumentation for sample identification is not an objective of this Challenge. Samples will have different point values and the prizes will be determined based on the scores for number and point value of samples collected and returned to the starting location.

In order to win a Level-1 prize, a robot must autonomously navigate at all times and must retrieve a pre-cached sample within the 15-minute time limit.

In order to win a Level-2 prize, a robot must autonomously navigate at all times and must retrieve the pre-cached sample and other samples distributed over the roving area within the two-hour time limit.

Prize Purse
$1.5 million is available from the Centennial Challenges Program. This amount may be supplemented with funds from other sources.

More Information

See the Sample Return Robot website at http://challenge.wpi.edu for a full set of Rules and for registration information.

Sample Return Robotics Challenge Opens For Registration

NASA and its partner, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, have announced that registration is now open for the Sample Return Robot Challenge, one of the agency's new Centennial Challenges prize competitions. See http://challenge.wpi.edu

› View NASA Press Release