Lunabot: Just wouldn’t be possible on hoof.

Robot Octavia: A shame this technology doesn’t work on slidey surfaces like the Canterlot castle walls or getting away from Trixingo would have been easy.

WVU Lunabotics Team

Under the mentorship of former astronaut, Jon McBride, West Virginia University’s College of Engineering and Mineral Resources (CEMR) will compete in its first Lunabotics Mining Competition.

NASA’s second annual Lunabotics Competition challenges teams from around the world to design and build a remote controlled excavation robot that is capable of collecting and depositing a minimum of 10 kilograms of “lunar simulant”–simulated moon soil–within 15 minutes. Other competition categories include a technical paper, outreach project, slide presentation and team spirit.

“The reason for this competition is to prepare for mining of minerals and various raw material that are essential to the long-term human presence on the moon and other planetary bodies,” said Dr. Majid Jaraiedi, director of NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium/NASA West Virginia Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. “Eventually, technologies such as this will make sustainable human settlement on the moon and Mars a possibility.”

The WVU Lunabotics team, formed at the beginning of the year, consists of 15 engineering students–six graduate and nine undergraduate–and faculty advisor, Dr. Powsiri Klinkhachorn, a professor in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. The team, a multidisciplinary group, represents computer and electrical engineering, as well as mechanical and aerospace engineering. The team is also collaborating with the Mining and Civil Engineering departments.

At a meeting on January 27, the Lunabotics team presented its design and initial planning to retired astronaut Captain Jon McBride, a 1964 CEMR graduate. As an unofficial technical advisor and mentor, McBride, a member of the Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Encounter team, was able to offer critiques and advice to the team.

“I am honored that McBride, a son of West Virginia that has achieved so much for his country and state, would take the time to mentor us,” said Ben Knabenshue , student team leader. “The meeting was great; he gave us a very inspiring talk and some great feedback on our preliminary designs.”

Currently, 54 teams are registered for the competition, which will take place May 23-28, 2011, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“We have an amazing team, and I think that we have an excellent opportunity to bring home a victory for WVU,” noted Knabenshue.

WVU’s Lunabotics team is sponsored by the NASA WV Space Grant Consortium, WVU College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.

For more information about the competition, visit NASA Lunabotics competition

I am the 5th from the left up there.  


Here is the current model for my Nasa Lunabotics Competition.  This was mainly drawn by my friend Brent.  It is not complete yet, we are still tweaking a few things and I am waiting to add the dumping mechanism and bucket once these are done.  Also there are no digging buckets on that blue part that is a representation of the chain.  The digging head is 6 inches wide and will most likely have 6 buckets on the circumference of the chain.  They will measure around 2in^2 in area I think and will rotate at ~250 rpm (the rpms change with the amount of torque on the motor).  The bucket has to hold around 1.5 ft^3 of volume in order to gather the 30kg we are wanting to get.  It will be pivoting around a point that is nearly 3ft away so that creates a very large amount of torque to overcome.  To make it dump we are considering a linear actuator placed 1 ft away from the pivot point to push the ~200 lbf of the bucket up 8in, so it will dump the lunar regolith (~sand) in a 1 meter high bin.  Also this all has to come in at a weight less than 80kg and be no larger than 1.5m long x .75m wide x 2m tall.  The competition for the collection of regolith only lasts 15 minutes.  Its pretty much open ended except we cannot use pneumatics or hydraulics since they would not work on the lunar surface with sub-zero temps.