NASA Centennial Challenge
On June 15-18, 2012, WPI will be hosting the first NASA Sample Return Robot Challenge, part of the Centennial Challenges Program. Teams from all over the US will converge in Worcester, MA to showcase their fully autonomous creations on a challenging course.
Since their start in 2005, the Centennial Challenges program has awarded over $5 million dollars in prizes to teams as they work towards their goal to:
- Drive progress in aerospace technology of value to NASA's missions,
- Encourage the participation of independent teams, individual inventors, student groups, and private companies of all sizes in aerospace research and development, and
- Find the most innovative solutions to technical challenges through competition and cooperation.
During the Sample Return Robot Challenge, teams will compete for up to $1.5 million in prizes by demonstrating a robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies. Innovations stemming from this challenge may improve NASA's capability to explore a variety of destinations in space, as well as enhance the nation's robotic technology for use in industries and applications on Earth.
"NASA's Centennial Challenges competitions engage teams from across the country to solve the technology hurdles NASA faces as we explore new frontiers," said Mike Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program in Washington. "We're looking forward to teams registering to compete, so they can unleash their creative problem-solvers to take on this robotic technology challenge.
"WPI takes tremendous pride in being the first university selected by NASA as a partner for a Centennial Challenge," said WPI President and CEO Dennis D. Berkey. "This university is a hub of expertise and innovation within the area of robotics, and like NASA, we believe strongly in the promise of this industry. Accordingly, we have invested deeply in growing our programs and growing interest in the field among young people. We are looking forward to an exciting competition."
- Registration to compete in the challenge is open through January 2, 2012. Cost to register is $3000.
- The event will be open to the public and there will be no cost of admission. Spectators will be able to view robots live in-person and through remote viewing as well as participate in other educational and interactive events.
- More information on the schedule of the tournament and activities will be made available closer to the date of the event.