NASA Chief Technologist David Miller and Dorothy Rasco, NASA's deputy associate administrator for Space Technology, will be on hand Saturday, June 14, at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) for this year's Sample Return Robot Challenge awards ceremony. The event will take place at 10 a.m. EDT, during the TouchTomorrow technology festival on campus, showcasing teams and robots, as well as NASA and WPI exhibits in science, robotics and space technology.
Eighteen teams of citizen inventors from across the globe are competing in the 2014 challenge June 11-13. Prize money of nearly $1.5 million is on the line in this third running of the challenge. Reporters wanting to attend the challenge should contact Andy Baron of WPI at 508-831-5916 or firstname.lastname@example.org for media credentials.
During this NASA Centennial Challenge, teams must demonstrate a robot that can locate and collect geologic samples from a wide and varied landscape without human control. The objective is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies. Innovations stemming from this challenge may improve NASA's capability to explore a variety of destinations in space, as well as enhance the nation's robotic technology for use in industries and applications on Earth.
There are two levels of competition in which teams can attempt to win prizes. For a robot to successfully complete Level 1, one specific undamaged sample must be autonomously returned to the starting platform within the 30-minute time limit. Only teams who complete Level 1 will be given an opportunity to compete in Level 2.
To successfully complete Level 2, a robot must autonomously return at least two undamaged samples, including the specific sample, to their starting platform within the two-hour time limit.
Returning teams this year include Survey of Los Angeles; Wunderkammer Laboratory of Topanga, California; Intrepid Systems of Lynnwood, Washington; the University of Waterloo of Ontario, Canada; AERO of Worcester, Massachusetts; Fetch of Alexandria, Virginia; Kuukulgur of Estonia; Middleman of Dunedin, Florida; and the University of California Santa Cruz Autonomous Rover Team.
New teams entering the competition are Cephal of Pittsburgh; Formicarum of Worcester, Massachusetts; the West Virginia University Mountaineers of Morgantown; the Oregon State University Mars Rover Team of Corvallis; the Retrievers of Schenectady, New York; RPI Rock Raiders of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York; Stellar Automation Systems of Marietta, Georgia; Sourcerors of Pittsburgh; and Lunambotics of Mexico City.
NASA's Centennial Challenges program does not award funds to competitors unless the challenge objectives have been met. This assures desired results are gained before government funds are paid.
The Centennial Challenges are part of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing, and flying hardware for use in NASA's future missions. Over the next 18 months, the directorate will make significant new investments to address several high-priority challenges in achieving safe and affordable deep-space exploration. These focused technology thrust areas are tightly aligned with NASA's Space Technology Roadmaps, the Space Technology Investment Plan, and National Research Council recommendations.
For more information about the directorate and NASA's Centennial Challenges, visit:
For more information about WPI, visit:
Janet L. Anderson
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass.