In the 2015/16 season the team focused on applying its robotic infrastructure from the Centennial Challenge to rescue robots. In the fall we demoed our technology at GITEX in Dubia. Through the fall and January semesters we furthered developed the mapping and state-estimation algorithms on bots and worked with a 6-degree-of-freedom arm for obstacle manipulation. Towards the end of the year we also began a trans-atlantic autonomous boat project.
For the 2014/2015 season, the MIT Robotics Team re-entered the Robo-Ops competition for a second year. RASC-AL Robo-Ops is an annual NASA-sponsored competition open to undergraduate and graduate university students. Each year, university teams across the country submit proposals for entry into the competition. From these proposals, eight finalists are chosen. Finalists construct a rover prototype to complete a series of competitive tasks in a planetary analog environment. The competition finals take place in June, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
To be successful, the rover prototype must be capable of negotiating difficult terrain including steep grades, loose sand, gravel, and traversing large rocks. Furthermore, the rover must be capable of identifying, and retrieving rock samples using an onboard manipulator. All tasks must be performed via tele-operation from the competing team’s home university.
In addition to the on-site roving portion of the competition, there is a communication, public outreach, and stakeholder engagement component. Teams are judged and awarded points based upon their ability to generate public interest, give an oral presentation, and publish content such as videos, a web site and a technical report.
NASA Centennial Sample Return Robot Challenge
In Fall 2015, we entered into the Sample Return Robot Challenge. The Nasa Centennial Challenge program was created with the intention of engaging the public in the development of new exciting technologies with a common theme of enabling space exploration and flight. The Sample Return Robot Challenge, now entering its third year, tasks teams with the construction of a fully autonomous robotic rover capable of searching for, and retrieving various objects in a large, open, outdoor GPS-denied environment. The competition boasts a $1.5 million prize purse and is open to universities, private inventors and small companies.