Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Eight Teams Taking Up ESA's Lunar Robotics Challenge
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (ESA) Jul 03, 2008

A still for a video of a wheeled rover chassis demonstrating its difficulty in overcoming a sandy slope of just 20 degrees inclination. Robotics vehicles (rovers) using wheeled locomotion principles cannot negotiate slopes found in lunar craters, unless some special provisions are used. A rover chassis of the automation and robotics laboratories at ESTEC is here shown as it tries to climb up a sand dune of about 20 degrees inclination. It can clearly be seen that the progress of the rover is extremely slow as the rovers slips on the sand. The ESA Lunar Robotics Challenge has been launched in order to investigate alternative locomotion principles or special provisions for wheeled rovers, to enable a rover to descend into a lunar crater and safely return back to surface. Credits: ESA

As interest in exploration of the Moon soars among the world's space agencies, ESA, through it's General Studies Programme, has challenged university students to develop a robotic vehicle that is capable of working in difficult terrain, comparable to that found at the lunar poles.

Eight university teams have been selected to proceed to the design stage of ESA's Lunar Robotics Challenge.

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.

Challenge objectives
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:

- move from a 'landing site' to the rim of a lunar-like crater

- descend into the crater, negotiating an incline of up to 40 degrees

- operate in sunlight on the crater rim, and in the dark interior of the crater

- reach the bottom of the 15 m deep crater

- locate and retrieve at least 0.1 kg of selected, visually distinctive, soil samples from the bottom of the crater

- return to the crater rim and then the 'landing site'

- The vehicle will be remotely operated by a workstation placed outside the crater and with no direct visibility of the crater or rim.

Selected teams

The teams selected to proceed with the design phase, supported by funding from the ESA General Studies Programme (GSP), are:

- Universitšt Bremen, Germany,

- Jacobs University Bremen, Germany,

- Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Spain,

- Oulun Yliopisto (University of Oulu), Finland

- Universitŗ di Pisa, Italy,

- Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna Pisa, Italy,

- Surrey Space Centre, University of Surrey, United

- Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule - ETH) Zurich, Switzerland

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.


Related Links
Automation and Robotics
All about the robots on Earth and beyond!

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Three Engineers, Hundreds of Robots, One Warehouse
New York NY (SPX) Jun 25, 2008
Two dozen squat robots scurry on the warehouse floor. They park underneath man-high inventory racks and activate a lifting mechanism that jacks the racks off the ground. One robot hauls shelves with 12-packs of Mountain Dew; another carries bottles of Redken shampoo. They move along straight lines and make 90-degree turns. It's a bit like Pac-Man. This is the demonstration facility ... read more

Looking For Early Earth...On The Moon

Moon-Bound NASA Spacecraft Passes Major Preflight Tests

Northrop Grumman Completes LCROSS Thermal Vacuum Testing

NASA Study Provides Next Step To Establishing Lunar Outpost

Phoenix To Bake Ice-Rich Sample Next Week

Rain Showers On Mars

Mars Sample Return: The Next Step In Exploring The Red Planet

New Soil Analysis Suggests It Rained On Mars Long Ago

Analex Awarded Three-Year Option On NASA Expendable Launch Vehicles Integrated Support

Russia seals agreement with private investor for space tourism

Fly me to the Moon: Japan firm offers weddings in space

NASA Goddard Has More Than A Dozen Exciting Missions In Next Year

China's Shot Heard Around The Galaxy

Shenzhou VII Research Crew Ready To Set Out For Launch Center

A Better Focus On Shenzhou

Gallup Poll Shows Americans Unconcerned About China Space Program

NASA plans two ISS spacewalks next week

Discovery undocks from ISS

Shuttle astronauts bid farewell to space station crew

Shuttle Astronauts Bid Farewell To Space Station Crew

Russia Launches Rocket With Military Satellite

Inmarsat And ILS Set August 14 For Proton Flight With Inmarsat Satellite

Payload Integration Complete For Arianespace's Fourth Mission Of 2008

Successful Ariane 5 Solid Rocket Booster Test Firing

Chemical Clues Point To Dusty Origin For Earth-Like Planets

Astronomers discover clutch of 'super-Earths'

Vanderbilt Astronomers Getting Into Planet-Finding Game

NASA Selects MIT-Led Team To Develop Planet-Searching Satellite

NASA Considers Development Of Student-Led Satellite Initiative

SATLYNX Completes 300 Site SCADA Network Rollout For EDF Energy

Herschel Undergoes Acoustic And Vibration Tests

Russian-US Launch Firm To Put Satellite In Orbit In August

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement