For second straight year, a team of WPI students wins the NASA Robo-Ops robotics competition

Jun 07, 2012

For the second consecutive year, a Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) student robotics engineering team has won the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Exploration Robo-Ops Competition sponsored by NASA and organized by the National Institute of Aerospace.

The tournament was held from May 30 to June 1 at the NASA Johnson Space Center's Rock Yard in Houston, Texas. In this year’s Robo-Ops competition, eight university teams were challenged to design and build a planetary rover and demonstrate its capability to perform a series of competitive tasks, which include negotiating specified upslopes and downslopes, traversing sand and gravel pits, picking up specific and placing them on the rover for the remainder of the course, and driving over rocks of specified diameter. A portion of the WPI team fielded the Oryx 2.0 robot in Houston, while the control team operated it from the Worcester campus.

During the one-hour performance run, WPI located and stored 13 rock samples and one alien life form, far outdistancing CalTech, with four rock samples and one alien life form, and the University of Maryland, with two rock samples. There were five other teams in the competition.

"For the second year in a row, WPI has proved it is one of the premier universities in the nation when it comes to fielding a robust, reliable, innovative, and, might I say, beautiful tele-operated robot," said Pat Troutman, human exploration strategic analysis lead at NASA Langley Research Center, and a Robo-Ops Steering Committee Member. "WPI set the bar higher than any other competitor in the Robo-Ops competition. Not only did WPI win the contest, but they demonstrated remarkable sportsmanship toward all the other participants and did a great job engaging the general public in their activities."

"This accomplishment is a result of the trifecta of skills - mechanical design, electrical system integration, and programming - that our students gain in WPI's innovative Robotics Engineering Program," said WPI Professor Taskin Padir of the Program and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. "Once again, our team did an outstanding job in terms of teamwork, professionalism and public outreach."

Oryx 2.0 will be shipped back to the WPI campus in time to be displayed during TouchTomorrow, a free, interactive festival of hands-on exhibits and activities focused on our scientific and technological future, which will take place on WPI's campus on June 16. The TouchTomorrow festival is a celebration of NASA's selection of WPI as host and manager of its latest Centennial Challenge – the Sample Return Robot (SRR) Challenge – a national competition with a total prize purse of $1.5 million that was designed to improve NASA's capability to explore a variety of destinations in space, as well as to enhance the nation's robotic technology for use in industries and applications here on Earth. The festival will run simultaneously with the SRR Challenge, which will be taking place on and near the WPI campus.

University teams at both graduate and undergraduate levels were eligible to compete in RASC-AL, and each team included a faculty advisor. Qualifying teams were selected to receive a stipend to purchase materials and travel to the Johnson Space Center, where the rovers compete on a planetary analog environment under the supervision of judges. Up to three members of the team, plus the faculty advisor, traveled to Johnson Space Center for the on-site testing. The remaining team members stayed behind at their local universities to conduct "mission control" tasks. The prototype rovers were tele-operated by the university team and were required negotiate a series of obstacles while accomplishing relevant tasks in the quickest time. Cameras allowed the transmission of the competition back to the home universities and to the general public.

WPI team advisors for the RASC-AL competition were Padir, Robotics Resource Center director Kenneth Stafford and Brad Miller. Team members were Joe Amato, Jon Anderson, Tom Carlone, Michael Fagan, Ennio Claretti, Mitchell Wills and graduate students Velin Dimitrov and Ryan Linton.

The WPI team received a $10,000 stipend to partially offset the cost of rover hardware, public engagement activities and travel to the competition. In addition, the 1st Place Award included $5,000 and a travel stipend to attend Desert RATS in the fall, where a NASA-led team conducts technology development research and analog testing in the Arizona desert.

Explore further: Computer model shows moon's core surrounded by liquid and it's caused by Earth's gravity

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Caltech Rover ready for rock-yard competition in Houston

May 29, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Later this week, a four-wheeled robot designed and built by Caltech undergraduate students will maneuver, apparently under its own guidance, through various challenges at the NASA Johnson Space ...

UBC engineering students unveil moon dust-shoveling robot

Oct 12, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A robot designed by UBC students will be shoveling moon dust at an international robotics competition next week, vying for a $500,000 prize and the opportunity to contribute to NASA's future space exploration ...

Teams Win at NASA National Lunar Robotics Competition

Oct 19, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Nineteen teams pushed their robot competitors to the limit, and three teams claimed a total of $750,000 in NASA prizes at this year's Regolith Excavation Challenge on Oct. 18. This is the ...

Student-designed robots take on March Madness

Mar 16, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Sixty-six national and international high school teams will take their robots to the courts this weekend to compete in the 21st season of the Los Angeles regional FIRST (For Inspiration and ...

Recommended for you

Titan offers clues to atmospheres of hazy planets

18 hours ago

When hazy planets pass across the face of their star, a curious thing happens. Astronomers are not able to see any changes in the range of light coming from the star and planet system.

Having fun with the equation of time

18 hours ago

If you're like us, you might've looked at a globe of the Earth in elementary school long before the days of Google Earth and wondered just what that strange looking figure eight thing on its side was.

The source of the sky's X-ray glow

Jul 27, 2014

In findings that help astrophysicists understand our corner of the galaxy, an international research team has shown that the soft X-ray glow blanketing the sky comes from both inside and outside the solar system.

User comments : 0