A group of students of the Faculty of Engineering of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) is competing in NASA’s 2015 Sample Return Robot Challenge hosted by the Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts. Twenty robotics teams, ranging from university students to small businesses are participating in the challenge. UNAM is one of two teams representing Mexico.
At the robot competition taking place June 8-13, teams must demonstrate their rover can locate and collect geologic samples from a large and varied landscape, without human control, through two levels of competition that grow in complexity. The objective is to encourage innovations in autonomous navigation and robotic manipulation technologies.
These innovations may enhance NASA’s space exploration capabilities and could have applications on Earth. Findings could also contribute to U.S. robotics industry leaders’ research.
Space UNAM, the engineering team comprised of 12 members, is seeking to place Mexico on the map as an innovator in space exploration. The young students have designed their rover using their knowledge in mechatronics, mechanical engineering, electrical-electronics and computing.
The Sample Return Robot Challenge is managed by NASA’s Centennial Challenges program, which falls under the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington. Through such challenges, STMD seeks out the best and brightest minds in academia, industry and government to drive innovation and enable solutions in important technology focus areas.
Ustream feed of the Sample Return Challenge is available at: www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msf