ASU Lunabotics team competes at Kennedy Space Center

June 18, 2013

For the second year in a row, Arizona State University tested its Moon-mining robot design at the NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition. The event was held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, May 20-24.

The international competition challenged university teams to design and build a remote controlled or autonomous excavation robot called a lunabot. The teams’ robots went head-to-head to determine which could mine and deposit the most simulated lunar soil within 10 minutes. Teams were judged on their robot’s dimensions and mass, regolith collection, dust mitigation, bandwidth and power usage, and the ability to control the lunabot from a remote control center. lunabot Download Full Image

Over 50 teams from around the world showed up for the weeklong competition. Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, India, Mexico, Poland and the US were all represented at the competition. Iowa State won the overall grand prize, the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence, for earning the most cumulative overall points. The ASU team placed 14th overall, collecting and depositing 15.7 kilograms of regolith on its second run.

“ASU Lunabotics spent the last year designing and building a completely new system,” says Ben Stinnett, leader of the ASU Lunabotics team and a ASU/NASA Space Grant intern. “Similar to a Caterpillar frontloader, this robot has a front scooping bucket that is actuated to collect the regolith.”

Stinnett was one of five ASU students to travel to Florida for the competition. He was joined by David Nelson, Aman Sharma, Jasper Jiang and Zhiqian Li. Stinnett is majoring in Earth and Space Exploration with a concentration in Exploration Systems Design. Nelson and Sharma both major in Aerospace Engineering, while Jiang’s major is Electrical Engineering and Li’s is Computer Science. The team roster also includes: Mason Denny (Earth and Space Exploration) and Jesse Banks (Earth and Space Exploration). Professor Srikanth Saripalli served as faculty advisor and he is also a ASU/NASA Space Grant mentor.

The team’s lunabot weighed in at 47.2 kilograms and measured 1.48 meters long, 0.5 meters wide and 0.6 meters tall.

The team’s efforts are the latest in a rapidly growing program in robotics and engineering in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, which combines science and engineering to produce the next generation of explorers.

The overlying challenge this year was communication. Many teams suffered from packet loss and dropped communications. The ASU team had this issue intermittently during its second competition run, causing them to lose a lot of time and only be able to make one run.

“Our first attempt was just human error. We didn’t properly secure the power wire for our router and ended up getting it caught up in our wheel. This pulled our router off the robot and we ran over it,” said Stinnett. “Overall it was a huge improvement from last year. We were one of a small number of teams who were actually able to collect something. We have a solid platform that we will continue to improve over the next year in preparation for the next competition.”

ASU’s Lunabotics team is sponsored by the School of Earth and Space Exploration, and the Autonomous System Technologies Research & Integration Laboratory.

For information about the competition, visit:

Nikki Cassis

marketing and communications director, School of Earth and Space Exploration

Sun Devil Volleyball releases 2013 schedule

June 18, 2013

Arizona State University volleyball has released its 2013 schedule, which includes 16 matches selected to be televised on the Pac-12 Network. The first televised match will be the Pac-12 Conference opener at home on Sept. 24 against Arizona.

The Sun Devils return 2012 Pac-12 All-Conference first teamer Macey Gardner and add an incoming freshman class that ranks 13th nationally. ASU made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season and in 2013 will face eight opponents that also made it to the postseason one year ago.  Download Full Image

“I think this is a nice blend for our team. Clearly, we have some challenges in the non-conference schedule,” head coach Jason Watson said. “Those challenges will prepare us for an increasingly competitive Pac-12 Schedule. The margins will be thin for our team, yet I am eager to see us respond to a competitive 2013 schedule.”

The team will open the season on Aug. 30 at Utah Valley University’s tournament followed by two additional road tournaments before the home opener in Tempe on Sept. 20 in the ASU Marriott Invitational. ASU will play in tournaments at Gonzaga Sept. 6-7 and at Illinois Sept. 12-13. 

ASU will face Alabama State, Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) and Cal Poly in the Marriott Invitational from Sept. 20-21. Three days later the Sun Devils host in-state rival Arizona on the Pac-12 Network at 8 p.m. PT on Sept. 24 to open Pac-12 action.

Read more at:

Juno Schaser

Event coordinator, Biodesign Institute