2011-2012

Team Oryx Advised by Professor Padir Wins NASA Robo-Ops Challenge

WPI Robotic Engineering Students Win!

WPI is One of Eight Schools Selected to Participate in the NASA Challenge

For the second consecutive year, a Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) team of robotics engineering students has won the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Exploration Robo-Ops Competition sponsored by NASA and organized by the National Institute of Aerospace.

The tournament was held from May 30 to June 1 at the NASA Johnson Space Center’s Rock Yard in Houston, Texas. In this year’s Robo-Ops competition, eight university teams were challenged to design and build a planetary rover and demonstrate its capability to perform a series of competitive tasks, which include negotiating specified upslopes and downslopes, traversing sand and gravel pits, picking up specific rock samples and placing them on the rover for the remainder of the course, and driving over rocks of specified diameter. A portion of the WPI team fielded the Oryx 2.0 robot in Houston, while the control team operated it from the Worcester campus.

During the one-hour performance run, WPI located and stored 13 rock samples and one alien life form. CalTech took the second place with four rock samples and one alien life form, and the University of Maryland came the third with two rock samples. There were five other teams in the competition.

"For the second year in a row, WPI has proved it is one of the premier universities in the nation when it comes to fielding a robust, reliable, innovative, and, might I say, beautiful tele-operated robot,” said Pat Troutman, the human exploration strategic analysis lead at NASA Langley Research Center, and a Robo-Ops Steering Committee Member. “WPI set the bar higher than any other competitor in the Robo-Ops competition. Not only did WPI win the contest, but they demonstrated remarkable sportsmanship toward all the other participants and did a great job engaging the general public in their activities. The robotics experts at JSC were so enamored with the WPI design and build quality that they were out there filming it!”

WPI Team Oryx members were Joe Amato (RBE'12), Jon Anderson (RBE/ME'12), Tom Carlone (RBE'12), Michael Fagan (Liberal Arts & Engineering'12), Ennio Claretti (RBE'13), Mitchell Wills (RBE'15) and RBE graduate students Velin Dimitrov and Ryan Linton.

The WPI team received a $10,000 stipend from NASA to partially offset the cost of rover hardware, public engagement activities and travel to the competition. The project was also supported by the following industry partners: MathWorks, Maxon Motors, Linemaster Switch Corp., Intersense Inc., Axis Communications, Barnstorm Cycles, Tesla Motors, and igus inc.

The 1st Place Award includes $5,000 and a travel stipend to attend Desert RATS in the fall, where a NASA-led team conducts technology development research and analog testing in the Arizona desert. WPI's Robotics and Intelligent Vehicles Research (RIVeR) Lab directed by Professor Padir is currently designing additional sensor modules and a set of experiments for testing the capabilities of Oryx 2.0 at Desert RATS.

Oryx 2.0 has also been selected as a finalist for the 2012 ASME Student Mechanism and Robot Design Competition to be held at the 2012 ASME International Design and Technical Conferences (IDETC) in Chicago, IL from August 12-15, 2012.

June 8, 2012

 
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