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NASA Announces Telerobotic Construction Competition

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Fri Dec 2, 2005 8:07 pm
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NASA’s Centennial Challenges program office, in collaboration with the Spaceward Foundation, Mountain View, Calif., announced the new Telerobotic Construction Challenge. The competition awards $250,000 to teams to develop technologies enabling robots to perform complex tasks with minimal human intervention.

“The Telerobotic Challenge may directly affect how exploration is conducted on the moon,” said NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Scott Horowitz. “If the Challenge can successfully demonstrate the remote assembly of simple and complex structures, many aspects of exploration in general will be affected for the better.”

This Challenge will be conducted in an arena containing scattered structural building blocks. The task is to assemble the structure using multiple robotic agents remotely controlled by humans. The operators may only see and talk to the robots through communications’ equipment that simulates Earth-moon time delays and restrictions. The robots must be smart enough to work together with only intermittent human direction to be successful.

“The Telerobotic Construction Challenge is directly linked to NASA’s focus on lunar exploration,” said Brant Sponberg, NASA’s Centennial Challenges program manager. “Spaceward has shown their capability to conduct a successful prize competition, and we look to them to help advance this new technology.”

NASA’s Centennial Challenges promotes technical innovation through a novel program of prize competitions. It is designed to tap the nation’s ingenuity to make revolutionary advances to support the Vision for Space Exploration and agency goals. The Exploration Systems Mission Directorate manages the program.

“Spaceward is pleased to expand on our prior collaboration with NASA to conduct this competition,” said Spaceward President, Metzada Shelef. “Because of the high degree of student interest in robotics, it is a great fit with our mission to advance space science and technology in educational curriculums.”

The competition takes place over two years, the first in August 2007. Competition rules will be finalized in early 2006. For information about Centennial Challenges on the Web, visit:

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

Spaceward is a non-profit corporation dedicated to furthering space science and technology through education and engineering competitions. For information about the Spaceward Foundation on the Web, visit:

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