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RASC-AL - Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts - Academic Linkage: Exploration Robo-Ops

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Academic Level:
Undergraduates - First Year
Undergraduates - Sophomore
Undergraduates - Junior
Undergraduates - Senior
Graduate Students (Masters)
Graduate Students (PhD)

RASC-AL Exploration Robo-Ops Competition (i.e., Robo-Ops) is an engineering competition sponsored by NASA and organized by the National Institute of Aerospace. In this exciting competition, undergraduate and graduate students are invited to create a multi-disciplinary team to build a planetary rover prototype and demonstrate its capabilities to perform a series of competitive tasks in field tests at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

Based on Project Plans up to 8 teams will be selected to participate in the challenge. The Robo-Ops Steering Committee will review each team's project plan and announce the qualifying teams. Up to 8 qualifying teams will be selected to receive a $10,000 award to facilitate full participation in the Robo-Ops competition, including expenses for rover development, materials, testing equipment, hardware and software. At the 2015 RASC-AL Robo-Ops Competition in Houston, the rovers will compete on a planetary analog environment under the supervision of NASA judges. Up to three members of the team (plus the faculty advisor) will travel to JSC for the on-site testing. The remaining team members will stay behind at the local university to conduct "mission control" tasks. The prototype rovers will be tele-operated by the university team and must negotiate a series of obstacles while accomplishing a variety of tasks. Sample tasks include: negotiating specified upslopes and downslopes, traversing sand and gravel pits, picking up specific rock samples and placing them on the rover for the remainder of the course, and driving over rocks of specified diameter.

Each rover will be required to be controlled from the home university campus via a commercial broadband wireless uplink. The only information available to the rover controller to perform the required tasks will be information transmitted through on-board rover video camera(s) or other on-board sensors. Cameras will allow the transmission of the competition back to the home universities as well as the general public.

NASA seeks to engage the public in its missions and research. Supporting that goal, Robo-Ops teams will be encouraged to conduct outreach efforts for the purpose of sustaining stakeholder support and public engagement. It is incumbent on the team to find compelling means to engage the public and their stakeholders, and to consider partnering with other organizations to help build awareness for RASC-AL Robo-ops, their team and rover.

Teams participating in the competition will be required to submit a written final report, build an actual rover, and demonstrate the rover's capabilities during the RASC-AL Robo-Ops Competition. Scoring is based on the ability to perform the tasks, along with adherence to requirements and time.
accepts non-us citizens

Participating Institution(s):
(Click an institution to see all programs it hosts)
National Institute of Aerospace (Lead)
NASA Johnson Space Center
NASA Langley Research Center

Program Materials:
 • Program Website 
movie  Program Video

This Program can be Described by:
Academic Disciplines:
Aerospace Engineering
Computer & Electrical Engineering
Computer Sciences
Materials Science & Engineering
Mechanical & Industrial Engineering
Operations Research
Sensor Science & Engineering
STEM Fields

Computer Programming
Electrical Engineering
High Performance Computing
Interplanetary Rover Design
Planetary Atmospheres

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This program is funded by:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Page last updated 7/13/2017
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