Tuesday, May 1, 2012

PANTERA: Lunar Mining Excavator

The 2012 NASA Lunabotics Competition is an international competition that challenges students against different universities in order to create a lunar excavator, called a Lunabot, which can mine and deposit a minimum of 10 kilograms of lunar simulant within 10 minutes. NASA will directly benefit from the competition by encouraging the development of innovative lunar excavators, which may result in clever ideas and solutions that could be applied to an actual lunar excavation or payload. Complexities of the challenge include the abrasive characteristic of the BP-1 simulant, weight and size limitations and the ability to tele-robotically control the robot from a remote mission control center. In order to overcome these complexities, information was gathered, analyzed and innovative drive, collection and dumping systems were introduced. With the combination of these systems in place, the FIU Lunabotics robot, Pantera, was born.
2012 Florida Conference on Recent Advances in Robotics

Narine Kelvin Harrylall, Ramon Garo, Janet F. Reyes
Dr. Sabri Tosunoglu
Florida International University
Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

This paper presents the design and development of a lunar mining excavator. After extensive research, the evolution of conceptual designs and finite element analysis simulations, the model was then fabricated. Several past, current and future technologies that could be used as an application for lunar excavators were examined. These included surface mining technologies, the design of previous lunar simulant excavators and robotic rovers that successfully operated on the Moon and Mars.

Based on the knowledge gained from this research, ideas were formed and 3D models were created on SolidWorks. Stress, strain and maximum displacements of different sections of the robot were then created and analyzed to ensure a sturdy, reliable and efficient robot.

The paper is organized as follows: An outline of the robot is demonstrated in Section 2. Conceptual models and the final design are presented in Section 3. The development and fabrication of the different sections of the robot are described in Section 4. In Section 5, the results of the stress, strain and displacement studies are shown and analyzed. Finally, Section 6 summarizes conclusions and outlines plans for future work.

The design of Pantera primarily focused on three different systems. These systems included: • Mobility system • Dumping system • Collection system.

The team set out to build a robot that was compact and efficient. With that in mind, the maximum dimensions of the robot were limited to 1.5 m in length, 0.75 m in width and 0.75 m in height. The weight limit created was 80 kg (~176lbs), which was found by comparing the weights of different prototype lunar mining excavators. The robot also needed to have a rapid collection and dumping rate. Based on research undertaken, a collection and dumping rate of 15.8 kg of simulant per minute was set out to be achieved.

Review the research (PDF) HERE.

The Florida Space Grant Consortium is supporting five teams from Florida universities competing in the Third Annual Lunabotics Mining Competition to be held at the Visitor Complex, Kennedy Space Center, May 21-26, 2012.

1 comment:

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