We are officially funded! This means we have the minimum necessary funds to make it competition! We are so grateful for everyone's support.
We are still accepting donations for the remaining 72 hours, and any extra money will go to good use.
Our stretch goal is to raise enough money to eliminate one or more borrowed sensors which did not fit in our budget. This year, our LiDAR and two of our machine vision cameras are borrowed from labs. While the borrowed sensors are available till June's competition date, the labs require them back after June. Our team intends to continue next year, and owning these sensors means we can continue testing and development straight away without the constraint of working around labs' schedules or waiting to raise additional funds.
We Need Your Help!
Last year, as a brand new student team, we placed 2nd at the NASA/RASC-AL Robo-Ops Competition, an exciting event which challenged us to build a rover then deploy it at the NASA Johnson Space Center Planetary Analogue Test Site while tele-operating it from the MIT Campus.
Spurred by this success, we have set our goals higher this year by entering two competitions. Firstly, we are revisiting the Robo-Ops Competition with the goal of capturing first place. Second, we have entered the prestigious NASA Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge. The latter is a fully autonomous rover challenge with a prize purse of $1.5 million.
The minimum funding goal of $20,000 will cover the cost of several key sensors required for our success, along with the expense associated with attending the competitions. If we are able to raise more than our goal, the additional funds will pay for upgraded sensors and actuators which will improve performance beyond the baseline we have set.
The MIT Robotics Team is a student-run organization founded in fall of 2013. Now in its second year, the team consists of over 50 highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students. Our diverse group, with majors ranging from Mechanical Engineering to Physics and Aeronautics to Business share a common passion for the field of robotics.
The team’s purpose is to explore exciting new technologies, learn critical skills, execute outreach initiatives, and promote the field of robotics through entering competitions. Along with our competition goals, we aim to inspire youth to pursue STEM-related careers through engagement in the local community and at K-12 schools. For the 2014/2015 season, the NASA rover challenges we are competing in both focus on developing enabling technologies for planetary exploration.
The Robotics Team is supported by the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department, the MIT Edgerton Center and the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Beaver Works Center. The team is advised by Prof. Olivier de Weck, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
The Projects: RASC-AL Robo-Ops
RASC-AL Robo-Ops is an annual NASA-sponsored competition open to undergraduate and graduate university students. Each year, university teams across the country submit proposals for entry into the competition. From these proposals, eight finalists are chosen. Finalists construct a rover prototype to complete a series of competitive tasks in a planetary analog environment. The competition finals take place in June, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
To be successful, the rover prototype must be capable of negotiating difficult terrain including steep grades, loose sand, gravel, and traversing large rocks. Furthermore, the rover must be capable of identifying, and retrieving rock samples using an onboard manipulator. All tasks must be performed via tele-operation from the competing team’s home university.
In addition to the on-site roving portion of the competition, there is a communication, public outreach, and stakeholder engagement component. Teams are judged and awarded points based upon their ability to generate public interest, give an oral presentation, and publish content such as videos, a web site and a technical report.
Last year, the team finished second in it’s debut competitive entry. For the 2014/2015 season, the MIT Robotics Team has secured a finalist spot and aims to secure a first place finish.
The Projects: NASA Sample Return Robot Challenge
The Nasa Centennial Challenge program was created with the intention of engaging the public in developing new and exciting technologies with a common theme of space exploration and flight.
The Sample Return Robot Challenge, now entering its third year, tasks teams with the construction of a fully autonomous robotic rover capable of searching for and retrieving various objects in a large, open, outdoor GPS-denied environment. The competition boasts a $1.5 million prize purse and is open to universities, private inventors and small companies.
The competition encompass the challenges that would be anticipated in a Martian environment. These include localization in a GPS-denied and minimal atmosphere environment along with autonomous object detection and visualization as well as real-time mapping of an unknown environment.
The MIT Robotics Team will be entering the Centennial Challenge for the first time this competitive season and will be expanding upon technologies developed in last year’s NASA RoboOps Competition to succeed at the challenge. The Centennial team is composed of last year’s core RoboOps members.
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A big thanks to McElroy films for their generous help in producing our video.