Robotic Mining Competition to Put Excavators to the Test

A participant in NASA's 7th annual Robotic Mining Competition uncrates a robotic excavator as his team prepares for practice runs and competition.Teams of undergraduate and graduate students from throughout the nation have gathered at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida to demonstrate their excavator robots during the 2016 Robotic Mining Competition. In the photo above, a participant uncrates his team’s robot to prepare for practice runs and competition.

The RMC is set up for college students to design and build a mining robot that can travel over a simulated Martian surface, excavate regolith — or Mars dirt — and deposit as much of it as possible into a bin, all within 10 minutes. Team members may control their bots remotely from a trailer where their only line of sight is via a computer screen, or completely autonomously, with their programming skills put to the test as their robot handles the mission on its own. The competition focuses on technologies necessary to extract consumables such as oxygen and water to support human life and provide methane fuel to spacecraft.

Visit the Robotic Mining Competition website for more information on the competitors, sponsors and event schedule (subject to change).

Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis