Tag: nasa

Beyond WPI: The Markhor robot wins Regolith Mechanics Award at NASA’s Robotic Mining Competition

Filed in News by on June 1, 2017 0 Comments

The culmination of every senior undergraduate student’s career at WPI is the major qualifying project — but the life of a project doesn’t have to end after the college’s Project Presentation Day. One such project is the Markhor mining robot, which went on to compete at NASA’s 2017 Robotic Mining Competition.

[The RMC is a competition] for university-level students to design and build a mining robot that can traverse the challenging simulated Martian terrain. The mining robot must then excavate the regolith simulant and/or the ice simulant (gravel) and return the excavated mass for deposit into the collector bin to simulate an offworld, in situ resource mining mission. The complexities of the challenge include the abrasive characteristics of the regolith simulant, the weight and size limitations of the mining robot and the ability to tele-operate it from a remote Mission Control Center. The on-site mining category will require teams to consider a number of design and operation factors such as dust tolerance and dust projection, communications, vehicle mass, energy/power required and autonomy. In addition to the on-site mining category, teams must also submit a systems engineering paper that explains their design philosophy. (NASA’s Eighth Annual Robotic Mining Competition: Rules and Rubrics)

Out of the nearly fifty teams that competed, Markhor won the Regolith Mechanics Award, “[a]warded to the team with the best example of a real granular innovation that identified a specific regolith mechanics problem (like the way the soil flows around the grousers, or angle of repose too high in their dump bucket, etc.) and intentionally improved their design to deal with it.”

To find out more about Markhor and the team of WPI students and faculty behind it, see WPI’s official announcement of the win and its news article about the team, see videos of the robot in action, or come to WPI’s TouchTomorrow event on Saturday, June 10, where the robot will be on display!