Friday, January 4, 2013

CHONDROBOT-2 - A simple, efficient semit-autonomous tele-robotic lunar excavator

CHONDROBOT-2 at 2012 Lunabotics Mining Competition, May 2012. The BRAC University team qualified for the competition with the only vehicle made entirely of recycled materials.
Rhaman, et al
School of Engineering and Computer Science
BRAC University
Dhaka, Bangladesh

A simple, light-weight and efficient excavation system to excavate and collect lunar regolith has been developed at BRAC university. The excavation system has a dimension of 1.21m × 0.66m × 0.74m with a total weight of 65 kg. 

This four wheel drive robot consists of a bucket-ladder system for excavation and is capable of collecting 8 kg of regolith per minute, and it also includes a collector bucket which can contain 18 kg of regolith to deposit a bin installed at 50 cm height. The excavation hardware can be operated both manually and remotely through a web browser without direct visual and auditory access to the hardware. A KINECT sensor, based semi-auto navigation, is incorporated to avoid obstacles while in motion.

Space exploration has gained considerable importance among the scientific community as it is key to unlimited resources beyond Earth. Sustainable exploration over a long period of time requires in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), the means to produce water, oxygen, hydrogen and some other consumables from materials available on other planetary bodies. NASA is promoting development of mining equipment that is light-weight and efficient to collect and handle regolith on the Moon, Mars, asteroids and comets, etc. With this objective, and also to promote interest in Space Science, Technology, Mathematics, and Engineering (STEM) fields, NASA has been arranging the yearly Lunabotics Mining Competition since 2010, a place where students at undergraduate or graduate levels from all over the world can take part in the design and operation of excavator systems for use on the Moon.

This paper describes the successful design and construction of an excavator system within specifications developed by NASA. The excavator system design is simple, light-weight, efficient and cheap because it is constructed fully using locally available materials. CHONDROBOT-2 is the 2nd version of CHONDROBOT, and relevant literature is reviewed as it relates to the development of each part of this tele-robotic lunar excavator.

Read the paper (pdf), HERE.

1 comment:

Adam said...

The use of robotics is making a variety of important industries more efficient right here on Earth. The possibilities for NASA, such as this excavator, are really exciting. Just fifty years ago, much of this automation was thought to be impossible.