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NASA Digs Embry-Riddle's Moon Mining Robotics
Prescott, AZ, and Daytona Beach, FL, June 7, 2011
Moon-mining robots engineered by two teams of Embry-Riddle students scooped up awards, judges’ praise, and tons of experience for their creators at NASA’s second annual Lunabotics Competition, held May 23-28 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The event drew 36 teams from the United States, Canada, and India.
A student team from Embry-Riddle’s Prescott, Ariz., campus won the first-ever Judges Innovation Design Award for their lunar robot, LAR-E (Luna All-terrain Regolith Excavator). LAR-E also ranked fourth in the Mining Competition.
“LAR-E was so maneuverable and agile that it had the ability to climb over the walls,” said Matt Bender, a member of Prescott’s campus team.
One of his teammates, Jacob Pratt, added that a NASA judge at the award ceremony said “it is believable that this robot could work on the moon.”
A second team, from the university’s Daytona Beach, Fla., campus, won the Slide Presentation Award for their excavator, called Moon Pi.
Caroline Liron, a faculty advisor of the Daytona Beach team, said, “Our performance was even better than last year. The robot is a complete improvement.”
Both Embry-Riddle teams were made up of mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering students. Their efforts are the latest in a rapidly growing program in unmanned aerial systems and robotics at the university, which boasts nationally recognized engineering programs at both campuses.
The NASA-sponsored competition required all teams to design and build a lunabot, a remote-controlled or independent robot capable of collecting and depositing 10-kg of simulated lunar soil, called regolith, in 15 minutes.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world's largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 40 baccalaureate, master's and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Aviation, Business and Engineering. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., and through the Worldwide Campus with more than 150 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit http://www.embryriddle.edu, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and facebook.com/EmbryRiddleUniversity, and find expert videos at YouTube.com/EmbryRiddleUniv.