Regolith Challenge Update: Braundo Rancho Qualified for Prize

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Lunar Arc’s entry in the Regolith Excavation Challenge

Greetings from the Regolith Challenge at NASA Ames.

So far, seven teams have competed. Two of them have succeeded in picking up and delivering simulated lunar regolith,while five others have succumbed to technical failures. The successful teams are:

Braundo Rancho: 263.75 kilograms – Palo Verdes, California
Laurentian Rock: .4 kilograms – Glendale, California

Braundo Rancho is the first team to qualify for the $750,000 prize, which is being funded under NASA’s Centennial Challenges program. A robot is required to pick up at least 150 kilograms of simulated lunar soil within 30 minutes from a simulated test bed 4 meters square. The top 3 teams to achieve this task will received cash prizes of $500,000, $150,000 and $100,000.

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Twenty-three teams registered for the competition, with 20 teams showing up at NASA Ames. The competition, which will continue on Sunday, is being co-sponsored by NASA, the California Space Authority, and the California Space Education and Workforce Institute.

Other teams have competed but suffered technical problems:

Auric Design – Orlando, Florida
Lunar Arc – Irvine, California
Next Step Robotics – Houston, TX
Top Hat Robotics West – Lafayette, Indiana
Moon Diggers A – San Francisco, California

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Moon Diggers A and Moon Diggers B – the same group with two different robots – have been disqualified from the competition. Moon Diggers A suffered a short in its motherboard, so a team member went into the impound area to scavenge a motherboard from its other entry, Moon Diggers B. The judges ruled this as a violation of the rules and disqualified both entries.

(Update: Judges reversed their decision on Sunday concerning the disqualification of Moon Diggers B. They felt that the team – which has some different members than Moon Diggers A – were a victim of a rule violation by a member of the Moon Diggers A team. Moon Diggers B will the last team to compete on Sunday.)

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The group will be able to demonstrate its technology on Sunday, but they will not be in contention for prize money.