Lunar Excavation Rover for NASA Lunabotics Competition

Institution: Michigan Technological University
Funders (6)
Views (4)
Rekhi Innovation Challenge

Why This Project Is Important 

NASA is looking to learn how to operate and mine water ice on the lunar surface to create rocket propellant for the sustainable aspect of the Artemis program. The NASA Lunabotics university student competition allows student teams to show what autonomous robots they came up with to travel across rocks and craters, excavate and return to the collection point and by demonstrating their robot, contribute ideas to NASA's future misstions to operate on and start producing consumables on the lunar surface.

Project Description 

The Mining INnovation Enterprise is a group of about 25 students that are currently working on an autonomous mining rover for the NASA Lunabotics Mining competition to be held in May 2020 at NASA Kennedy Space Center. The competition consists of two 15 minute mining runs where we will maneuver through an obstacle field filled with simulated lunar dust, rocks and craters, to the excavation zone where the robot will excavate and collect simulated buried ice chunks (buried rocks). The robot will then drive back to the starting zone to deposit the gravel for overall points. In order to successfully complete in the competition, the team will need to design, build, and test the electrical, mechanical, programming, control and operation aspects of the robot. The competition requires a system engineering approach which is an elaborate version of the engineering design process as well as public outreach events. Our outreach plan is to visit local schools and conduct a hands-on lesson to build a small, fun robot to play with.

Right now, the team has selected the final design for the competition rover and are working on the final bill of materials to order parts. We will then move on to the manufacturing, building, and testing stage. In May, we will be heading down to the Kennedy Space Center to compete against 49 other college teams. Funding is needed for parts of the robot, but mostly for offsetting travel costs for the team and robot to NASA Kennedy Space Center in May 2020.  We are very excited to have been selected to be a part of this competition and to represent Michigan Tech and its crazy smart students well!

Meet the Researchers

Mine Rover

The Mining INnovation Enterprise (MINE) seeks to design, test, and implement mining innovation technologies for industry partners. MINE is apart of the NASA Robotic Competition that takes place in May 2020 at the Kennedy Space Center. We will be designing, building, and testing a robot that will be able to traverse and mine on a lunar surface

Paul van Susante

Dr. van Susante grew up in The Netherlands, received a Master of Science from Delft University of Technology in 2001 in Civil Engineering with an emphasis on Building Engineering. He then went to the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) to participate in NASA research and received a Master of Science in Engineering Systems from CSM in 2004 followed by a Ph.D in Engineering Systems from CSM in 2011. Dr. van Susante taught Freshman, Sophomore and Senior Design as well as Mechanics of Materials for five years at CSM before coming to Michigan Technological University in 2012. He was a NASA Faculty Fellow in 2010 and consulted for a variety of companies on SBIR or STTR projects such as University of Arizona, Sysrand Corporation, Energid, HoneyBee Robotics and others. He has been involved in research projects for many customers including Lockheed Martin, DARPA, NASA KSC, JPL, Bechtel, Caterpillar, NCHRP, NSF and others.

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of $1,000 fund goal
The average donation for this project is $237
days left
Funding is Closed

What Your Donation Can Help Us Do: 

  • Offset travel costs for students to participate in the competition
  • Purchase robust motors and gearboxes
  • Purchase state-of-the-art sensors and control systems
Although there are no rewards for this project, all donors will receive an email receipt with tax-deduction information.

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