NASA calls on researchers to build smarter space robot
Challenge focuses on building robot that can find and collect samples on Mars, asteroids
Computerworld - NASA launched a $1.5 million competition to see who can build the best space robot.
The space agency announced Thursday that it's teaming with Worcester Polytechnic Institute to challenge teams from academia and industry to build a smart robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples while maneuvering over rugged terrain on an asteroid or Mars.
Registration is open for the competition that will be judged in June 2014. For the challenge, dubbed the Sample Return Robot, NASA is putting up the $1.5 million in prize money, which will be dispersed among teams who complete certain levels of the competition. More information is available from the WPI website.
"The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies that NASA could incorporate into future missions," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology, in a statement. "Innovations stemming from this challenge may improve NASA's capability to explore an asteroid or Mars, and advance robotic technology for use in industries and applications here on Earth."
This isn't the first time NASA has looked outside its own walls for robotic assistance. Earlier this year, the space agency awarded $5,000 to Team Survey of Los Angeles for successfully completing a 2013 Sample Return Robot Challenge. NASA noted that it expects the 2014 challenge will advance progress already made and expand the field of competing teams.
NASA wants to advance its robotics technology, which has been behind much of its exploration of Mars.
The NASA rover Curiosity, which just marked one year on the Martian surface, was tasked with determining whether the planet had ever supported life, even in small microbial form.
To accomplish its work, the rover, which has 10 scientific instruments and 17 cameras, used its robotic arm to scoop up soil samples and drill into Martian rocks. NASA engineers send instructions to the rover on where and how far to drive.
Jennifer Trosper, NASA's deputy project manager for the Mars Science Lab Mission, in a recent interview, said that within a month, Curiosity should be traveling longer distances in its daily drives because the rover will be able to do more decision-making on its own. NASA will be sending Curiosity additional software in order for it to perform auto-navigation.
Trosper said giving the rover the ability to make some of the driving decisions on its own will enable it to travel farther and faster.
This article, NASA calls on researchers to build smarter space robot, was originally published at Computerworld.com.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Emerging Technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Shifting Gears: The Value of Customer-Driven Quality in Manufacturing In today's competitive manufacturing market, the customer must be the center of the quality universe. This paper details how manufacturers can improve customer...
- Aberdeen Group: Marketing Analytics for Manufacturing: Forging Customer Insights There are no recalls for poor marketing. Manufacturers need to get their customer intelligence and messaging right the first time. Learn how.
- Unlocking the Promise of Demand Sensing and Shaping through Big Data Analytics Many organizations have limited insight into big data. These limitations have significant opportunity costs and can have a negative effect on identifying and...
- The Brave New World of Customer-Centric Manufacturing The Unique Opportunity for Manufacturers to Better Understand their Consumers
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,... All Emerging Technologies White Papers | Webcasts