Miami University students placed sixth out of 57 U.S. and international undergraduate and graduate teams in the on-site mining category of the third annual Lunabotics Mining Competition last week (May 21-26) at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
Miami University Team Anklebiter was part of a competition in which nearly 60 teams designed and built a remote-controlled or autonomous robot. Some of the concepts may be incorporated into the design of future NASA robots. During the competition, the teams’ designs, known as lunabots, went head-to-head to determine which one could excavate and deposit the most simulated lunar dirt within 10 minutes.
The on-site judging consisted of the robot’s weight, how much material it excavated and deposited, along with the amount of bandwidth used to communicate to the robot. The team was also judged on its systems engineering paper, community outreach, a presentation, team spirit and the multidisciplinary level of the team. The Miami robot was the second one to complete the course twice and store simulated moon soil both times. A point system for size, weight, power consumption and a safety-stop was used to score the robot. At the end of the final round of competition Miami’s point score placed it sixth out of 57 teams in the on-site mining category.
Team members Michael Bencsik, Ryan Cook, Mark Fellows, Noah Holman, Ray Noel, and David Reagan worked with Michael Bailey-Van Kuren, associate professor of manufacturing and mechanical engineering, during spring semester to prepare for the competition. The complexities of the challenge included the abrasive characteristics of the lunar simulant, the weight and size limitations of the lunabot, and the ability to control the lunabot from a remote control center, said Bailey-Van Kuren.
The competition is designed to engage and retain students in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) that are disciplines critical to NASA’s missions.
Highlights of the competition aired on NASA Television’s Video File. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv. Images will be posted on Kennedy’s online media gallery.