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Centennial Challenges

Sample Return Robot (SRR)

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

This Challenge requires demonstration of an autonomous robotic system to locate and collect a set of specific sample types from a large planetary analog area and then return the samples to the starting zone. The roving area includes open rolling terrain, granular medium, soft soils, and a variety of rocks, and immovable obstacles (trees, large rocks, water hazards, etc.) A pre-cached sample and several other samples will be located in smaller sampling zones within the larger roving area. Competitors will be given aerial/geological/topographic maps with appropriate orbital resolution, including the location of the starting position and a pre-cached sample. GPS use or other terrestial naviagtion aids are not allowed. The samples will be easily distinguished from other materials present at the site. Samples will have different point values and the prizes will be determined based on the scores for number and point value of samples collected and returned to the starting location. In order to win a Level-1 prize, a robot must autonomously navigate at all times and must retrieve a pre-cached sample within the 30-minute time limit. In order to win a Level-2 prize, a robot must autonomously navigate at all times and must retrieve the pre-cached sample and other samples distributed over the roving area within the two-hour time limit. The prize purse is $1.5 million. 2012: Eleven teams registered for the competition on June 15-18, 2012, in Worcester, MA.  There were no successful entrantants. 2013: Fourteen teams registered for the competition on June 4-8, 2013, in Worcester, MA.  Team Survey of Los Angeles, CA recieved $5,000 for meeting Level I requirements. 2014: Registration is open for the 2014 competition which will be June 10-13, 2014, in Worcester, MA.

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