Our final robot digging up regolith!
Testing our robot before the final competition!
"Building a Lunar Base: NASA is working to establish a permanent human presence on the Moon within the next decade to uncover new scientific discoveries and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy. Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo. The US will go back to the Moon. This time we will build a community. Can we build the necessary infrastructure?"
I worked with a team of three other students in MIT's course 2.12 Introduction to Robotics (Team Cambridge Dynamics) to modify an existing robot base to excavate, transport, and dump "lunar regolith." Our final design was a robot with a front scoop that could raise and lower using lead screws, tilt using winch and drum, and dump out regolith using a rake and lead screws. Our robot was tele-operated using a joystick.
Final competition stage layout. The robot had to start in the starting box, drive around obstacles to collect regolith, and drop the regolith into the collection bin,
The base robot that we used as a foundation for our robot
Testing the prototype of my vacuum idea
Testing a bucket scooping mechanism by hand
Testing a bucket in front of our robot
Driving over regolith test
Team discussing driving test results and deciding to switch tires
Tilting mechanism before winch was installed
Our winch system
Team discussing troubles with our original rake idea
We tested removing the rake entirely, but that left valuable regolith inside of the bucket
We ultimately redesigned the rake to not pull regolith into the bucket, but to push it out of the bucket into the collection bin. Here we are testing our new curved rake.
In our final run-through testing before the competition, we were able to collect 3 kg of regolith in only 3 trips.