For many students, summer means relaxing back home with friends and family.
But for a number of robotics teams, the first weeks of summer are reserved for preparing and competing in NASA’s annual Robotic Mining Competition. In this competition, college students design and build a mining robot that can travel on simulated Martian terrain, excavate Martian regolith and deposit the regolith into a collection bin within a 10 minute time period. In addition to crowning winners, NASA also uses this contest to develop ideas and solutions from the teams that could be applied to a real future excavation of asteroids or on Mars.
This year, the FIT NASAbotics team’s hard work paid off in a big way.
FIT’s robot Perception mined a whopping 33.4 kg of regolith over the course of two runs — a feat only a handful of teams were able to complete. The robot also reached autonomous mode, or the ability to mine on its own without telerobotic operation.
Not only did the team do well in the competition, they kept a great attitude both in and out of the control room. They even gave a T-shirt to the host of the NASA webcast (which he playfully wore the rest of the competition as their “unofficial” mascot).
During the awards ceremony, FIT nabbed two awards. First, they received second place for the On-Site Mining Award with an impressive average point score of 1032. Scoring for that category included design, operation, communications, vehicle mass, energy required and autonomy. The second award was third place for the Caterpillar Autonomy Award. See the whole award list here.
Way to go, Panthers!
(Featured Image Credit : NASA)