Status Report

Centennial Challenge: Sample Return Robot Challenge

By SpaceRef Editor
October 21, 2011
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Centennial Challenge: Sample Return Robot Challenge

NASA and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass., are seeking teams to compete in a robot technology demonstration competition with a potential $1.5 million prize purse.

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 provides the prize money to the winning team as part of the agency’s Centennial Challenges competitions, which seek unconventional solutions to problems of interest to the agency and the nation. While NASA provides the prize purse, the competitions are managed by nonprofit organizations that cover the cost of operations through commercial or private sponsorships. The competition is planned for June 2012 in Worcester and is anticipated to attract hundreds of competitors from industry and academia nationwide.

Early bird registration and fees for the competition are due by Jan. 2, 2012. Teams wishing to register after this date are subject to approval by the judging committee.

For more information about the Sample Return Robot Challenge and to register online for the competition, visit

The Centennial Challenges program is part of NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist. For more information about NASA’s Centennial Challenges and the Office of the Chief Technologist, visit

Questions about the Sample Return Robot Challenge should be sent to

SpaceRef staff editor.