Recently in the Rovers Category


When explorers first set out to discover new lands, they couldn't take everything they needed with them.

NASA Tests Under-Ice Rover

A school of sardines fluttered by as giant leafy kelp swayed back and forth at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on Monday, June 22.

Registration is now open for teams wishing to compete in the $1.5 million energy storage competition known as the Night Rover Challenge, sponsored by NASA and managed by Cleantech Open of Palo Alto, Calif. Registration for the competition will close October 25, 2013.

Eleven teams from across the country and around the globe are preparing to compete for $1.5 million during NASA's 2013 Sample Return Robot Challenge, June 5-7 at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass.

Fifty teams of undergraduate and graduate students from around the world will demonstrate their lunar excavator robots May 20 - 24 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Practice sessions for the fourth annual Lunabotics Mining Competition will take place May 20 - 21, followed by the official competition. Media representatives are invited to cover the event on Wednesday, May 22 from 12 - 4 p.m. EDT, at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

NASA's newest scientific rover is set for testing May 3 through June 8 in the highest part of Greenland. The robot known as GROVER, which stands for both Greenland Rover and Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research, will roam the frigid landscape collecting measurements to help scientists better understand changes in the massive ice sheet. This autonomous, solar-powered robot carries a ground-penetrating radar to study how snow accumulates, adding layer upon layer to the ice sheet over time.

2013 Sample Return Robot Challenge

Fourteen teams from across the country and around the globe are perfecting their hardware and software to compete for $1.5 million in prize money at NASA's 2013 Sample Return Robot Challenge, the latest competition of the agency's Centennial Challenges program. The event will take place in June at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass.

NASA today declared the winners of the 20th NASA Great Moonbuggy Race at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. Team 1 from Teodoro Aguilar Mora Vocational High School of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, won first place in the high school division; racers from the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao claimed the college-division trophy.

"The 2014 Night Rover Challenge is scheduled and teams that wish to compete may register. Centennial Challenges is a program of prize competitions to stimulate innovation in technologies of interest and value to NASA and the nation. The 2014 Night Rover Challenge is a prize competition designed to encourage development of new energy storage technologies or application of existing storage technologies in unique ways for application in extreme space environments. Competitors will need to demonstrate high energy density storage systems (>330w-hr/kg) that would enable a rover to operate throughout lunar darkness cycles. Cleantech Open of Palo Alto, California administers the Challenge for NASA. NASA is providing the $1,500,000 prize purse." More

"Due to an initially aggressive schedule that resulted from a delayed launch of the 2013 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts - Academic Linkage, or RASC-AL, Lunar Wheel Design Challenge, the new deadline to submit project plans has been extended to Sunday, Jan. 19, 2013, at midnight EST."

NASA GRC Solicitation: Curiosity Rover Scale Models

"NASA/GRC has a requirement for two (2) high quality 1/10th scale models and one (1) 1/5th scale model of the Curiosity Rover. NASA/GRC intends to purchase the items from Scale Model Company on a sole source basis due to the proprietary restrictions on drawings."

Keith's note: "Proprietary restrictions on drawings"? Gee, I wonder were this company got the data for the drawings of Curiosity in the first place? (Likely) answer: one way or another it all comes from NASA - even if the company did additional work on the drawings for their own uses. Too bad NASA has to spend lots of money on these models. There is little, if any, incentive at NASA to find cheaper ways to procure things like this since the expensive way is the way things have always been done. I wonder how much they are paying for these models? If I ask NASA PAO what the models cost they will almost certainly refuse to tell me and will make me file a FOIA request.

More or less every NASA center has 3-D printers these days and is experimenting with 3-D printing of satellite and rocket engine components. Why not take NASA's Curiosity drawings and make them open source? There's a large, growing DIY / "Maker" community who'd just love to do this for free. Then anyone (including NASA) can just print the models out - at a variety of scales - in a variety of materials - on an as-needed basis. Not only would this provide a huge audience with a chance to get a more intimate understanding of how these rovers work, it would also end up costing less money to make these models that NASA just loves to spend money on.

That said, I am sure the ITAR enforcers will find reasons why you can't release things like this - even if the schematics simply show the outside of components - not their internal design. Yet nothing stops a company like Scaled Model Company from producing a model on their own - one of sufficient fidelity that NASA itself wants to buy it.

- 3D Printed CubeSat, Fabbaloo
- PrintSat - An Amateur Radio 3D Printer CubeSat, Southgate
- 3D Printing of cubesat structure, YouTube
- NASA 3D prints rocket parts -- with steel, not plastic, ExtremeTech

"NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) successfully have used an experimental version of interplanetary Internet to control an educational rover from the International Space Station. The experiment used NASA's Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocol to transmit messages and demonstrate technology that one day may enable Internet-like communications with space vehicles and support habitats or infrastructure on another planet. Space station Expedition 33 commander Sunita Williams in late October used a NASA-developed laptop to remotely drive a small LEGO robot at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. The European-led experiment used NASA's DTN to simulate a scenario in which an astronaut in a vehicle orbiting a planetary body controls a robotic rover on the planet's surface." More

20th Annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race


"Registration is now open for the 20th annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race, which challenges high school, college and university students around the world to build and race fast, lightweight "moonbuggies" of their own design. The students' work will culminate in two days of competitive racing April 26-27, 2013, at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. NASA created the event two decades ago to complement classroom learning, provide young thinkers and builders with real-world engineering experience and inspire them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- the STEM fields. "It's our goal to keep the wheels turning," said Tammy Rowan, manager of the Academic Affairs Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, which organizes the race each year. "The ingenuity and enthusiasm we see among racers begins in the classroom. That first spark of interest -- whether it's in basic chemistry or astronomy or the history of spaceflight -- starts the wheels turning. The Great Moonbuggy Race helps sustain that momentum, turning interest into passion, and dreams into a lifelong pursuit of new answers and new horizons." More

ESA Tests Self-steering Rover in 'Mars' Desert

"ESA assembled a top engineering team, then challenged them to devise a way for rovers to navigate on alien planets. Six months later, a fully autonomous vehicle was charting its course through Chile's Mars-like Atacama Desert. May's full-scale rover field test marked the final stage of a StarTiger project code-named 'Seeker'. Standing for 'Space Technology Advancements by Resourceful, Targeted and Innovative Groups of Experts and Researchers', StarTiger involves a multidisciplinary team gathered at a single site, working against the clock to achieve a technology breakthrough."

Tumbleweed Rovers on Mars

How to keep a Mars tumbleweed rover moving on rocky terrain

"New research from North Carolina State University shows that a wind-driven "tumbleweed" Mars rover would be capable of moving across rocky Martian terrain - findings that could also help the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) design the best possible vehicle. "There is quite a bit of interest within NASA to pursue the tumbleweed rover design, but one of the questions regarding the concept is how it might perform on the rocky surface of Mars," says Dr. Andre Mazzoleni, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research. "We set out to address that question."

NASA's Lunabotics Mining Competition

NASA Invites Media To Annual Lunabotics Mining Competition

"More than 50 teams of undergraduate and graduate students from eight countries will come to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida May 21-26 to take part in the third annual Lunabotics Mining Competition. The teams have designed and built remote controlled or autonomous robots that can excavate simulated lunar soil. During the competition, the teams' designs, known as lunabots, will go head-to-head to determine whose machine can collect and deposit the most simulated moon dust within a specified amount of time."

Ice Droids For Use on Hoth

Yeti Robot Tackles Crevasse Detection in Polar Regions

"During the 2010-11 field season in Antarctica, personnel at the South Pole Station used a series of small explosions to collapse several old buildings, which had been buried under the ice for decades but that had become a hazard to surface travel. The question this past season: Was it now safe to travel over an area known as Old Pole, the first research station built by the United States back in the 1950s? The U.S. Antarctic Program enlisted Yeti to find out. No, not the 10-foot-tall creature with a serious hirsute problem. This Yeti doesn't come with hair -- just four wheels, a metal body, a bunch of batteries and high-tech radar. It's the creation of Dartmouth College's Thayer School of Engineering, specially designed to operate in the polar regions."

Terraforming a landscape for a robotic rover, ESA

"Challenged to design a background for a small rover controlled from space, students in Germany have delivered a futuristic cityscape. The cool space art will be seen by astronauts in orbit via the rover's camera eye as they remotely control their avatar later this year. The ultimate goal is for robot astronauts to roam around hazardous places like Mars and asteroids guided by human controllers safely orbiting overhead in their spacecraft. As a first step, ESA is linking the International Space Station and Earth for remotely controlling terrestrial test robots from the orbital outpost."

Astrobotic's Moon Rover

Astrobotic Technology Reveals Design for Robot to Prospect at Moon's Poles

"Astrobotic Technology unveiled its new Polaris lunar rover design, which will prospect for potentially rich deposits of water ice, methane and other resources at the moon's north pole in three years. A powerful Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX will launch Polaris from Cape Canaveral in late October 2015. Four days later Polaris will land during north pole summer, when patches of ground that are in cold shadow most of the year get brief illumination. This is where ice will be found closest to the surface, and when a solar-powered robot will get the sunlight needed to sustain exploration. Polaris will search for ice for the next 12 days until sundown in early November."

NASA CTO Peck Visits Pasadena's Honeybee Robotics Wednesday

"NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck will visit Honeybee Robotics in Pasadena, Calif., on Wednesday, March 14. Peck's visit will highlight how government can partner with small business to help create the jobs of the future through investment in science and technology. Honeybee Robotics has been a technology supplier to the last three Mars missions. It has received multiple NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards to develop mechanisms that could be used on future NASA missions, many of which also have potential in the commercial marketplace. These include excavation and drilling tools for potential use in harsh environments on Earth and other planets."

Community College Scholars Selected to Design Robotic Rovers

"Community college students will have the chance to design robotic rovers in cooperation with NASA. Ninety-two students from schools in 24 states have been selected to travel to a NASA center to develop rovers through the National Community College Aerospace Scholars program. The initiative provides hands-on opportunities to inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Students will visit either NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., from May 1-3, or NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston from May 9-11. The teams will establish fictional companies pursuing Mars exploration. Each team will develop, design and build a prototype rover, then use their prototypes to navigate a course, collect rocks and water and return to a home base."

Hacking Curiosity: Adding an aftermarket sample collection capability to the Mars Science Lab, Doug Mohney

"NASA's withdrawal from a joint ExoMars 2016/2018 mission has left the planetary science community grieving the at loss of the first step in a sample return mission: collection of samples. However, there's a $2.5 billion rover with a mechanical arm and plenty of power scheduled to land on Mars in August. Can the Mars Science Lab (MSL) Curiosity be fitted with a couple of "aftermarket" sample collection racks once it completes its primary mission of one Martian year? The author believes there is the potential to do so."

Great Moonbuggy Race

NASA Opens Registration for Annual Great Moonbuggy Race

"NASA is challenging student inventors to gear up for the agency's 19th annual Great Moonbuggy Race. Registration is open for the engineering design and racing contest set to culminate in a two-day event in Huntsville, Ala., on April 13-14, 2012. The race is organized annually by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and held at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, both in Huntsville. Since 1994, NASA has challenged student teams to build and race human-powered rovers of their own design. These fast, lightweight moonbuggies address many of the same engineering challenges overcome by Apollo-era lunar rover developers at Marshall in the late 1960s."

Designing Moon Droids in Autodesk

Moon Express Designs and Engineers Lunar Mission with Autodesk Software

"Taking the main stage before more than 8,000 attendees at Autodesk University 2011, Edwin "EJ" Sabathia of the "Moon Express Robotics Lab for Innovation" (MERLIN) unveiled lunar micro-rovers designed with Autodesk software. EJ was one of eight student robotics engineers hired by Moon Express in September from a team of the nations' brightest engineering students. MERLIN is utilizing Autodesk design software for developing robotic technology supporting the company's lunar exploration missions."

NASA/NIA 2012 Student Rover Contest

NASA, NIA Announce 2012 Student Rover Contest

"NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) are launching a 2012 undergraduate and graduate level student robotics competition. The RASC-AL (Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage) Exploration Robo-Ops Student Challenge will allow up to eight teams to compete at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) next spring. The prize is $10,000 and a chance to attend the popular analog and robotics testing event, NASA Desert Rats, in fall 2012."

Night Rover Challenge

NASA and the Cleantech Open Partner in Robotics Challenge

"NASA has selected The Cleantech Open of Redwood, Calif., to manage the agency's Night Rover Challenge that will culminate in a competition in fall 2012. The event is a new Centennial Challenges prize competition seeking revolutionary energy storage technologies for future space robotic rover missions. NASA is offering a prize purse of $1.5 million to challenge winners. The Night Rover Challenge is to demonstrate solar energy collection and storage systems suitable for rovers to operate through several cycles of daylight and darkness."

The Challenge Is On: Robot Prize Competition Registration Opens

"NASA and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass., are seeking teams to compete in a robot technology demonstration competition with a potential $1.5 million prize. During the Sample Return Robot Challenge, teams will compete to demonstrate a robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. The objective of the competition 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."

NASA Centennial Challenges 2012 Sample Return Robot Challenge, NASA IPP

NASA Centennial Challenges 2012 Sample Return Robot Challenge, NASA IPP

"Autonomous robot rovers will seek out samples and return them to a designated point in a set time period. Samples will be randomly placed throughout the roving area. They may be placed close to obstacles, both movable and immovable. Robots will be required to navigate over unknown terrain, around obstacles, and in varied lighting conditions to identify, retrieve, and return these samples. Winners will be determined based on the number of samples returned to the designated collection point as well as the value assigned to the samples."

From: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Category: Science & Technology
Partners: TBD
Prizes: $1,500,000

To demonstrate a solar-powered exploration vehicle that can operate in darkness using its own stored energy. The prize purse is $1.5 million. Detailed rules and plans will be announced in the coming months.  The competition is expected to occur in 2011. More information at www.nasa.gov/challenges
NASA has not yet selected a partner to manage this challenge.   Updates will be posted at www.nasa.gov/challenges

Submission Period: Start: Sep 01, 2011

More information at Challenge.gov

From: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Category: Science & Technology
Partners: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Prizes: $1,500,000

To demonstrate a robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. The prize purse is $1.5 million.  The detailed rules and competition plans will be announced in the coming months.  The competition is expected to occur in 2012.  More information at http://wp.wpi.edu/challenge/ and www.nasa.gov/challenges

Submission Period: Start: Sep 01, 2011

Update: Draft Rules for Sample Return Robot Challenge have been posted for public comment at http://challenge.wpi.edu. The public and potential competitors may provide input on the draft rules until June 17, 2011. After the 17th, the rules will be removed from the website, modified by the judging committee, and then final rules posted on or around June 28, 2011.

More information at Challenge.gov

The NASA Minority Innovation Challenges Institute (MICI) is offering opportunities for minority serving institutions to apply for a $5,000 grant to enter the 2012 University Student Launch Initiative (USLI) or Lunabotics Mining Competition. Applications for both competitions are due June 30.

Eighty students from community colleges in 28 states and Puerto Rico have been selected to travel to a NASA center to develop robotic rovers. The National Community College Aerospace Scholars program encourages students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.


What: On April 1, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville will host a 40th anniversary celebration of the first use of the Lunar Roving Vehicle on the moon. The gala event honors the men and women who designed, tested, built and piloted the original lunar rovers -- many of whom are expected to take part in the celebration. Members of the news media are invited to attend.

DARwIn - OP: (Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligence - Open Platform) is an affordable, miniature-humanoid-robot platform with advanced computational power, sophisticated sensors, high payload capacity, and dynamic motion ability to enable many exciting research, education, and outreach activities. Darwin runs on UbuntuLinux (adaptable to other systems).

- More information at Source Forge
- More information at Robotis Home Page

Imagine the NASA hacking applications. Remove the legs and put this robot's upper body on a small ROV. Make the arms longer, add better (and exchangeable) end effectors, and put better optics in its head. Video below.

Few NASA projects in recent years have captured the public's attention like the Mars rovers. Now researchers are hoping the chance to design a future rover may capture university students' interest.

NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace or NIA in Hampton, Va., have launched a new planetary rover engineering competition called Exploration Robo-Ops Student Challenge. University teams are eligible to win as much as $10,000 for designing and building a planetary rover, then demonstrating its capability to perform a series of tasks at the NASA Johnson Space Center's Rock Yard in Houston, Texas.

"NASA is excited to sponsor this competition that lets us see students' creative solutions to real engineering problems," Pat Troutman, Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts-Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) sponsor at NASA's Langley Research Center. "This challenge gives NASA the benefit of student innovation in robotic operations, but it also gives the students a chance to excite the public and others about their mission." Graduate and undergraduate engineering teams with a faculty advisor are eligible to compete. Teams are required to submit a project plan proposal by Dec. 15. Up to 10 qualifying teams to be announced Dec. 23 will move on to the building phase of the competition. Those teams' rovers will then compete against one another at the 2011 RASC-AL Robo-Ops Forum in May next year.

Community college students in a pilot program will take the first steps toward potential technology careers as they develop robotic explorers at NASA field centers. Ninety students from community colleges in 23 states have been selected to travel to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston or the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for hands on experience with technology development and direct interaction with NASA experts.

This week, the White House Summit on Community Colleges explored how these institutions can support a highly educated and skilled workforce. Concurrently, NASA is preparing for the culmination of the National Community College Aerospace Scholars pilot program. The agency will bring young scholars to join agency professionals Oct. 20-22 to develop rovers to explore the surfaces of other worlds and learn more about actual careers in science and engineering.

Here we are demonstrating the very first prototype of a hacked Sensetta rover platform, controlled instead by an Arduino 'breakout' board controlled over Bluetooth by a custom scripted Google Android app. The use of the Android-Arduino combination on-board the vehicle reduces the weight, energy consumption, and maneuverability by removing the Max Kernel computer and router.

NASA is challenging U.S. and international undergraduate and graduate student teams to design and build a remote-controlled or autonomous excavator that could be used on the moon. The excavator must be able to collect and deposit a minimum of 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of lunar simulant in 15 minutes.

Design teams must include one faculty advisor from a college or university and two or more undergraduate or graduate students. A group of universities may work in collaboration, and multidisciplinary teams are encouraged.

Selected teams will compete in the Lunabotics Mining Competition at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 23-28, 2011. Teams must apply no later than Feb. 28, 2011. There will be a limited number of teams allowed to compete.

Hacking a Roomba into a Rover

All terrain Roomba, Hack a Day

"This little rover gets around on rough terrain pretty well. [Dean Segovis] built it using parts from a Roomba. The Roomba uses wheels in conjunction with gearboxes that handle a lot of the dirty work in getting this prototype going. [Dean] grabbed four of them, as well as the motor controller board and batter, and installed them on this Rocker-bogie suspension."

Note: We have several Roomba's sitting on a shelf at McMoon's (Bldg 596)...

More than 100 student teams from around the globe will drive their specially crafted lunar rovers through a challenging course of rugged, moon-like terrain at NASA's 17th annual Great Moonbuggy Race in Huntsville, Ala., April 9-10.

Some 1,088 high school, college and university students from 20 states and Puerto Rico, Canada, Germany, Bangladesh, Serbia, India and Romania are expected to participate in the race at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

A Bot With Droid Brains

Android Phone Grows Up, Becomes Brain for Real Robot, Gadget Lab, Wired

"Playing with apps on an Android phone is fun. Building your own apps, even more so. But what about using the phone to operate a moving, talking bot? Tim Heath and Ryan Hickman have done exactly that. The bot they recently finished building -- Truckbot -- is still relatively simple. It's got an HTC G1 phone for a brain, riding on top of a chassis with some wheels and treads. All it can do is roll around on a tabletop, turn and head off in a specified direction. When I visit the workshop where they're building it, Heath and Hickman show how it can use the phone's compass to make itself point to the south. But the duo have much more ambitious plans in mind. "I knew I could build this thing. I just needed a phone," explains Heath, a Python web engineer. He posted on various e-mail lists looking for one, including that of Hacker Dojo, a Mountain View, California, hackerspace. Hickman, who works for Google's Doubleclick division, but has no connections to the Android people, saw Heath's pleas."