Capstone Engineer - Fall 2015

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The 2015 astrobot, designed and built by students from the College, helped the Alabama Astrobotics team to its second win in the NASA Robotics Mining Competition. The UA team is the most decorated in the contest’s six-year history.


n the six years since NASA began hosting its Robotics Mining the team only had five members when the competition finally rolled Competition, The University of Alabama Astrobotics team around in the spring of 2010. has emerged as the competition’s most successful team. The team was called Alabama Lunabotics at the time, since the This past May, the team won the top competition focused specifically on mining prize at the contest held at the Kennedy lunar soil. The competition required the Space Center in Florida. The team also team to build a robot capable of navigating won first place in 2012, making them the through and excavating at least 10 kilograms only team in the competition’s history of simulated lunar regolith — a layer of loose to finish in first place more than once. material that covers a solid rock — within two Overall, the UA team is the competition’s competition runs of 10 minutes through an most decorated team, placing second in obstacle course. That year, the team finished 2014 and third in 2013. sixth. “The 2015 NASA RMC National “That team was woefully undermanned Championship cements Alabama and lacked significant experience building Astrobotics as the top robotic space robots in general and, more specifically, —Dr. Kenneth Ricks mining program in the country,” said Dr. had no experience with how robots would Kenneth Ricks, UA associate professor of handle the simulated lunar soil in which the electrical and computer engineering and competition was held,” Ricks said. “However, team adviser. “This consistent level of excellence is unmatched and the energy and enthusiasm of the students overcame the team’s stands testament to the hard work and dedication of our students.” weaknesses, and they laid the foundation for the organization we But the team actually got off to a meager start in 2009. Back then now have in place.”

“This consistent level of excellence is unmatched and stands testament to the hard work and dedication of our students.”

{ Capstone Engineer • Fall 2015 }