The NASA Lunabotics Team works to help NASA with its mission to explore Mars. Each year we compete in the NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The goal is to build a robot that can traverse a simulated Martian terrain in order to collect materials. NASA uses this competition to fuel ideas for its own future missions.
The annual NASA Robotic Mining Competition arena has three zones: starting, obstacle, and mining. The robots must start in the starting zone, cross the obstacle zone where there are craters and large rocks, collect material in the mining zone, and return the material to the starting zone to deposit in a collection bin. Each team is given two competition runs of ten minutes each to try to collect as much material as possible. There are mass, size, and material constraints teams must adhere to in order to compete. Points and awards are given to teams based on mining, autonomy, efficiency, dust control, innovation, systems papers, slide presentations, and outreach. NASA uses BP-1, a crushed basaltic aggregate, to simulate the Martian surface and beneath that is a layer of gravel to simulate the icy regolith on Mars. Each year NASA changes the rules slightly to emphasize certain aspects of the competition. Most recently they made the BP-1 worth zero points in the mining category to encourage teams to dig down to the gravel.
The RMC team has been busy designing their new robot for the 2018-19 competition. Their main design incorporates a rocker-bogie chassis with a trencher (displayed in the images above). Currently, they have been building and testing a prototype of their robot for competition.
Due to unfinished construction of the new competition arena at the Kennedy Space Center, NASA is not hosting the RMC competition this year. Teams can still earn awards based on written and visual documentation (“RMC Virtual”).
The UNL RMC team will be traveling to Alabama to compete this year because NASA will not be hosting the competition. The competition will be held May 6-10.
We are a team of people with a passion for innovation and aerospace robotics. The team is open to people in any major or discipline and with any level of experience. Members of this team participate in research, brainstorming, designing, 3D modeling, programming, and manufacturing of the robot. As such, this team is a great way to gain hands on experience outside of the classroom. The competition is also a great way to make connections with NASA members and we have had multiple team members land internships with NASA in the past.
Zach Boyd, Ezra Bailey-Kelly, Dillon Margritz