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

Astrobotic Technology Reveals Robot Design To Survive Moon’s Extreme Heat

In a post today at IEEE Spectrum, the design for Astrobotic Technology’s entry into the Google Lunar X Prize in revealed.  This unique concept is conceived around the idea of surviving the incredible heat of a lunar noon which is 270 degrees F or 130 degrees C.  Just how will it accomplish this feat?  David Gump, the company's president, gives the details in a feature on the Astrobotic’s website:

The robot beats the heat by keeping a cool side aimed away from the Sun to radiate heat off to the black sky. It travels toward or away from the sun (generally east or west) without turning its radiator into the light. Only the solar cells on the hot side ever face the sun. The robot can travel north and south by tacking like a sailboat.

Astrobotics Robot

Photo Credit:  Astrobotic Technology

New design overcomes intense lunar heat

For the company vying for the Google Lunar X Prize, it's all about keeping the (robot's) head cool.  

Astrobotic Technology Reveals Robot Design To Survive Moon's Extreme Heat
Tue, 21 Jul 2009 00:24:12 GMT

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