ESA’s first Lunar Robotics Challenge got under way in late March with the issuing of an Announcement of Opportunity that invited teams of university students to create an innovative, mobile robot capable of retrieving samples from a lunar-like crater.
Eight of the submitted proposals have been selected for funding after evaluation by a team of ESA experts. The selected student teams received the go-ahead to design their robotic systems, and eventually build them to compete in the challenge event.
The proposals had to describe the design of a vehicle capable of retrieving soil samples from a crater, and an associated remote-operation workstation. The vehicles are required to weigh no more than 100 kg, consume no more than 2 kW of power, and occupy a volume of no more than 0.5 cubic metres with deployable appendages stowed.The robot’s test mission includes a number of objectives:
Each team is required to maintain a web blog during the challenge.
Reviews and competition
Following the selection, a kick-off meeting for the successful entrants was held by videoconference. The student teams were then given a few months to develop their design ready for a Critical Design Review (CDR) to be held at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), in the Netherlands, on 9 and 10 July. If they are successful at the CDR, the teams will be given approval and further funding to build their entry.
A Test Readiness Review will be held at the premises of each university team once construction of their robot is complete. The challenge will culminate in a 10-day competition, to be held in October 2008.
Gianfranco Visentin | alfa
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