As part of its efforts to promote STEM education and innovation, Allied Electronics & Automation has announced that it will sponsor a team from Colorado State University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering for the NASA Robotic Mining Competition for a fourth consecutive year.
As part of the sponsorship agreement, Allied provides a monetary grant to the team, access to critical components and parts, and advice from Allied’s in-house engineering experts to assist CSU’s team in developing a lunar mining vehicle for the NASA competition, the Fort Worth company said in a news release.
“Our sponsorship of the CSU Lunabotics team is a natural way for Allied to better provide these student engineers with the resources, expertise and materials they need to innovate and further their technical and professional development,” said Ken Bradley, president of Allied Electronics and Automation Americas. “NASA’s Lunabotics RMC competition helps inspire the next generation of engineers to literally reach for the stars with their innovation, and we’re excited to see what solutions this team of bright young people from CSU will come up with.”
The annual NASA Lunabotics Robotic Mining Competition in the Artemis Student Challenge provides U.S. colleges and universities the opportunity to train their students using NASA engineering methods by designing, building and operating a lunar excavator prototype.
Over the past three years, the CSU team has built and refined a robotic vehicle suitable for harsh moon mining operations that can autonomously avoid obstacles, extract material from the lunar surface, transport it to a deposit point and geolocate itself without the aid of GPS.
Each year the Lunabotics competitors improve the designs of their excavation robots from past years with better mechanical systems and improved sensors and autonomy software.
The teams participate in multiple events throughout the year, and the CSU team has continued to improve its robot despite the 2020 on-site competition being cancelled due to COVID-19.
The CSU team has made significant upgrades to their vehicle in 2021, replacing its previous auger mining system with a system of buckets on a ladder belt that scoop material from the ground and deposit it into a storage container which actuates like a dump truck.
“I have been continuously amazed by how much the students can accomplish by the end of their senior design project, launching them into a wide variety of engineering careers,” said Jianguo Zhao, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Colorado State and technical advisor for the NASA Robotic Mining Competition team. “This is possible thanks to the generous support from Allied Electronics.”