The University of Arizona ‘Robotic Rover’ team is proving that it’s the best in the country. The team of engineering students that built and demonstrated a planetary rover in the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston won $10,000 at the robotics competition.
Just seven teams qualified for the National Institute of Aerospace award which helped them design and construct the planetary rover. Amongst the seven teams were the University of Buffalo, University of Maryland, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Utah, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
The demonstration of the planetary rover’s capabilities took place in May in Rock Yard in Houston. Rock Yard is also known as the Planetary Analog Test Site and simulates the lunar and Martian landscapes. The Rock Yard is used by NASA to test habitats, rovers and spacesuits. It was here that the NASA and National Institute of Aerospace sponsored competition took place.
The student rover competition was entitled Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts, Academic Linkage, Exploration Robo-Ops," shortened to Rascal. The purpose of the competition was to test the robot-building skills of university students in addition to sparking their interest in planetary rovers and robotics.
The teams not only had to construct a robot that could negotiate obstacles and traverse difficult terrain, but also submit a technical paper to support their rover projects. The completed rover had to also identify and collect various colored rocks while being controlled via broadband from "mission control". The team from the University of Arizona scored the highest amongst the seven finalists.
Photos can be found here.