Illinois Team Improves in Lunabotics Competition
The Illinois Robotics in Space (IRIS) team, including several AE students, placed third of 57 teams competing in the Systems Engineering paper category of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Third Annual Lunabotics Mining Competition.
The competition, held May 21-26 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, involved building a tele-operated or autonomous lunar excavating robot to collect and deposit regolith simulant, a terrestrial substance synthesized to approximate lunar surface material. The robot’s goal was to navigate an obstacle course of craters and rocks, both when the robot was empty and when carrying cargo.
The Illinois group continues to improve: last year’s team placed 19th out of 36 teams overall.
The systems engineering project required the management of schedules, deliverables, interfaces, resource budgets, multiple engineering disciplines, and much more. Each major functional area of the robotic system was split into different subsystems, which various students led.
IRIS is a multidisciplinary, fully student-led and managed team that has worked on this project as an extracurricular activity. In addition to designing and building a robot from scratch for the Lunabotics competition, the team pursued many educational outreach activities, followed the systems engineering design process, prepared and presented a presentation on the robot's design, and represented Illinois with great team spirit. IRIS accomplished this, Holquist said, while its members also participated in various other projects, such as rocket payloads, unmanned aerial surveillance drones, and introductory robotic kit projects for new members.
“While this has been my last year at the University of Illinois and with IRIS, I am confident in the continued growth and success of this organization,” Holquist said. “Our members have learned so much by applying their education and working in a multidisciplinary team setting, as will be the case in their future workplaces. I can honestly say that they are inspired and excited to begin new projects in the coming year.”
AE Assistant Profs. Soon-Jo Chung and Timothy W. Bretl co-advised the Illinois team. The team is greatly appreciative of the sponsorship and support they received from Caterpillar, Illinois Space Grant Consortium, the Student Organization Resource Fund, the University of Illinois Aerospace Engineering Department, and the College of Engineering Design Council.
Please refer to the Aerospace Engineering at The University of Illinois Facebook page for more photos.