The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is looking outside its own walls to advance robotics technology. The space agency has announced a new challenge that focuses on building a smart robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples while maneuvering over rugged terrain on an asteroid or Mars.
The Sample Return Robot Challenge is open to teams from academia and industry, and will offer $1.5 million in prize money that will be dispersed as they complete certain levels of the competition. NASA collaborated with Worcester Polytechnic Institute to offer the competition, which will be judged in June 2014.
"The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies that NASA could incorporate into future missions," says NASA's Michael Gazarik. "Innovations stemming from this challenge may improve NASA's capability to explore an asteroid or Mars, and advance robotic technology for use in industries and applications here on Earth."
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