NASA Sp nsors 2nd Year
of Lunabotics Competition
Lunabotics is a NASA sponsored competition for college students
to design a robot that could be used
for lunar mining. The main goal of
the event is to promote science,
mathematics, problem solving, and
engineering in the classroom. Twelve
teams came from around the world
to join 32 domestic teams for a
chance to compete in the “sandbox”
Much like a piece of modern construction
equipment, the robot from Viriginia Tech used
a scoop design. Robots have to dig from one
area of the playing field, and then deposit it at
the other end. The dirt is weighed as it’s collected.
The “bucket drum” is what makes the
Prescott, AZ campus of Embry Riddle
Aeronautical University’s design one of the
more unique robots. As the drum spins, dirt is
collected inside. When the time comes to dispense the dirt, the drum spins in the opposite
direction which empties the drum.
● by Collin Berry
of simulated lunar soil, or regolith.
The event this year took place in the
Rocket Garden at Florida’s Kennedy
Space Center. The robots are
designed to move as much
simulated moon dirt as possible in
an allotted amount of time. Simply
put, the team that moves the most
dirt in weight wins. SV
The team from BRAC University in
Bangladesh faced a unique set of problems
when designing their robot. Because they
don’t have a large amount of robot supply
stores in their country, most of their parts
came from junk yards. They used windshield
wiper motors to move their robot, and scrap
metal to build the chassis.
Teams operated their robots from the Desert
Rat’s control van. They watched via a video
camera mounted high in the competition tent.
Many teams did attach a webcam to their robots
for better control. Several teams used video
game controllers to maneuver their robots.
The Kennedy Space Center’s Visitors Center
provided an impressive venue for this year’s
University of North Dakota’s robot featured a
scoop made from carbon fiber. They opted for
carbon fiber as a way to save weight which
allowed them to move more dirt at a time. An
aircraft manufacturer (Cirrus) made the scoop.
Another sponsor was an auto shop which can
be seen in the professional paint job.
The Laurentian University robot’s design was
one of the more common designs. There is a
series of scoops mounted on a belt. As the
belt rotates, dirt is scooped into a hopper. The
hopper is then dumped in the collection area.
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