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Space Robotics

NASA Prizes for Builder and Flyer Robots 74

FleaPlus writes "NASA has recently announced a couple more X-Prize-style Centennial Challenges. The first is a Telerobotic Construction Challenge, for using a team of robots to assemble structures from building blocks with minimal human intervention. The second is an Planetary Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Challenge, to create a robot which can fly a path using visual navigation and hit ground targets with a probe (no GPS allowed). Rules are still being finalized, with the contests scheduled for 2007. Both prizes are for $250,000, the max Congress is allowing NASA to offer."
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NASA Prizes for Builder and Flyer Robots

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  • by massivefoot ( 922746 ) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @06:52AM (#14172900)
    I think the unmanned aerial vehicle might be doable for that cost. I mean, the hard bit is the AI. Other than that you've just got a model aeroplane being controlled internally rather than be someone on the ground with a transmitter.

    Of course you need to know how far it has to fly etc, but IMO it can't cost over £10k to build the airframe. The programme to fly it wouldn't be too hard either, the only hard part is that it needs to know where it is and what orientation it's in . Yhe latter is trivial - use a giro like any other aircraft would. The former could probably be done by taking either a stereo image from two cameras mounted on the wing tips, or useing some sort of downward looking radar, to create a 3D picture of the local terrain, which could then be matched to a map held in memory and a "best-fit" obtained.
  • by Alterscape ( 904055 ) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @10:45AM (#14173396)
    I was involved in my university's AUVSI/IAR team two years ago. I didn't have enough CS background to participate in the development, but I did a lot of work building up and modifying the ARF airframe we purchased for our competition use (that mainly consisted of building new higher-lift airfoils and making mounting arrangements for our camera and control system). I attended meetings and talked to the programmers and from what I know, GPS was almost invaluable in our solution. You can achieve kind-of-the-same sort of accuracy with an inertial guidance system and a known take-off point (which is what US fighter aircraft did for non-radio navigation in the pre-GPS days) but that lacks the same precision, and isn't nearly as simple as plugging in a GPS receiver that spits out coordinates in an immediately-useful fashion.

    So the no-GPS thing -is- a real difference between the competitions.

    An aside: When I was involved, we didn't have to actually fly -into- the building. This sounds like it tilts the playing field very far in favor of helicopters or other VTOL solutions.. but that's not relevant to the NASA prize.
  • by swframe ( 646356 ) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @12:15PM (#14173732)
    The results could be open to the public.

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.