Archives for August 12, 2009

Robotic Hamster Ball Design for Google Lunar X Prize

New Scientist has an article on the contenders for the Google Lunar X Prize.  If you haven’t heard of this, it is a contest sponsored by Google to see who can land a rover on the Moon and accomplish a set of pre-assigned tasks.  Do this and your team gets a great deal of recognition and $20 million. 

The Google Lunar X Prize site details what the rovers need to accomplish:  “The Google Lunar X PRIZE is a $30 million international competition to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send images and data back to the Earth. Teams must be at least 90% privately funded and must be registered to compete by December 31, 2010. The first team to land on the Moon and complete the mission objectives will be awarded $20 million; the full first prize is available until December 31, 2012. After that date, the first prize will drop to $15 million. The second team to do so will be awarded $5 million. Another $5 million will awarded in bonus prizes. The final deadline for winning the prize is December 31, 2014.” 

So, on the New Scientist site there photos of some of the more interesting and unique entries.  They cover the range of hoppers, wheeled rovers, and, in one case, a sphere-shaped robot reminiscent of a hamster ball.  You can see this planned lunar bot in the photo below.  Click on the photo to go to the page in the New Scientist article about this creation by Team Frednet, one of the Google X Prize entrants.  And look at the video on You Tube of the PicoRover, as it is called.  This innovative approach to a lunar rover is very intriguing because it weighs only 500 grams.  It certainly won’t need a Saturn 5 to get it to the Moon.  And besides, if this design doesn't make  it to the Moon, it certainly has a future as a cat toy.

Hamster Ball Moon Rover 

Image: Team Frednet/Joshua Tristancho

More than a dozen teams are racing to claim a $30 million prize for landing a robot rover on the moon – see the most advanced prototypes so far

Hamster balls and lunar hoppers: meet the X Prize teams
Wed, 12 Aug 2009 14:50:14 GMT

Farming Robots From Europe

Today, I saw this entry from that has a story of how imaging systems could be used to aid in harvesting crops.  Several days ago, in fact on the RobotNext Weekly Newswrap, I linked to a story of swarm robots that are being tested in the Netherlands for farm use.  Now, this is a good example of two robotic systems that could benefit by working together.  It would be a great idea to combine the imaging system from the UK with the robots from the Netherlands.  Although the Netherlands robots are being promoted as a way to apply precision amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, why could they not also be used for harvesting purposes.  Not only that, but the imaging systems could help in cultivation of crops by the farmbots.  See the video of the farming robots to get an idea of how these machines could work on agricultural lands.

Intelligent harvesting robot to save farms money. Tue, 08/11/2009 – 13:57 – NLN. Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington have developed imaging technology to be used in an intelligent harvesting machine that
Machines Like Us – Science at… –

Intelligent harvesting robot to save farms money | Machines Like Us
Tue, 11 Aug 2009 17:05:25 GMT

But a swarm of small robots could quite possibly replace these agricultural giants in farming of the future. Wageningen University Agricultural Professor
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Farming Robots Have a Field Day in Netherlands
Sun, 09 Aug 2009 00:44:17 GMT

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