The National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) agency of the US in collaboration with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has announced that the registrations for the Sample Return Robot Challenge are open.
This competition is part of the company’s Centennial Challenge competitions. Under the Sample Return Robot Competition which is scheduled to be conducted in 2012 in Worcester, teams will be required to design and demonstrate robots that can identify and retrieve geological samples across broad and varied terrains without the help of human control.
Through this competition NASA aims to encourage technology inventions in manipulation and automated navigation of robots. NASA may also use the robots created out of this challenge to explore further destinations in space and in other applications on earth that will enhance the robotic technology of the US. The prize money for the winner of this competition is likely to be $1.5 million. WPI is one of the first universities that have been selected as a partner for NASA’s Centennial Challenge.
Over the past six years NASA has conducted 21 Centennial Challenges through which it has awarded a total prize money of $4.5 million to 13 teams. The participating teams have ranged from groups of students, individual inventors and private companies. While the prize money is covered by NASA, the cost of running the challenges is covered by non-profit organisations which raise money through sponsorships. However, the winning teams will receive the prize money only after successful demonstration of the robots.