On Tuesday Jan 31, NASA announced that Team WPI Humanoid Robotics Lab has qualified as a finalist in the NASA Space Robotics Challenge. Although a Press Release is now being prepared, I wanted to give you all a heads-up:
Out of over 400 registrants for the competition, 90 teams submitted entries, and 20 were selected to continue based on their performance on 2 simulated tasks. Having passed the Qualification Round, we now go on – with $15K in NASA funding – to the Virtual Competition which runs through June, competing for over $1M in awards. This round has 8 more complex tasks simulating the challenges a robot might encounter on Mars.
I’d like to acknowledge and thank a few key people. Vinayak Jagtap, a RBE PhD student, has worked tirelessly as our Project Manager. Without his technical and project leadership, we could not have done as well as we did. Dean Terri Camesano helped secure a Mannooch Fellowship for Vinayak that enabled him to concentrate on the competition. We benefited greatly from coaching in Agile Development by Marc Trudeau ’81. Marc has been a selfless volunteer and great mentor to the team. Our Scrum Team Leaders (Shlok Agarwal – Team M2M, Bhawna Shiwani – Team Curiosity, Josh Graff – Team 9, Samyuktha Devadoss and Nathaniel Goldfarb – Team Apricot, Sahil Kejriwal – Team WTF) did a great job keeping us focused and effective. We also received financial support from the CS, ECE, and ME Departments and the Deans of Arts & Sciences and Engineering. Another great show of interdisciplinary support for robotics at WPI. And of course, our fabulous team of around 40 students, faculty, and staff who have worked so hard to get us to this point.
Keep tuned for updates as Team WPI WHRL heads to Mars and beyond.