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- Excavation will hold a key role for future lunar missions. NASA has stated that "advances in lunar regolith mining have the potential to significantly contribute to our nation's space vision and NASA space exploration operations." . The Lunabotics Mining Competition is an event hosted by NASA that is meant to encourage "the development of innovative lunar excavation concepts from universities which may result in clever ideas and solutions which could be applied to an actual lunar excavation device or payload." . Teams entering the competition must "design and build a remote controlled or autonomous excavator, called a lunabot, that can collect and deposit a minimum of 10 kilograms of lunar simulant within 10 minutes." . While excavation will play an important part in lunar missions, there will still be many other tasks that would benefit from robotic assistance. An excavator might not be as well suited for these tasks as other types of robots might be. For example a lightweight rover would do well with reconnaissance, and a mobile gripper arm would be fit for manipulation, while an excavator would be comparatively clumsy and slow in both cases. Even within the realm of excavation it would be beneficial to have different types of excavators for different tasks, as there are on Earth. The Alabama Lunabotics Team at the University of Alabama has made it their goal to not only design and build a robot that could compete in the Lunabotics Mining Competition, but would also be a multipurpose tool for future NASA missions. The 2010-2011 resulting robot was named the Modular Omnidirectional Lunar Excavator (MOLE). Using the Systems Engineering process and building off of two years of Lunabotics experience, the 20ll-2012 Alabama Lunabotics team (Team NASACAR) has improved the MOLE 1.0 design and optimized it for the 2012 Lunabotics Competition rules [I]. A CAD model of MOLE 2.0 can be seen below in Fig. 1.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20130000010.
- Copyright, Distribution under U.S. Government purpose rights.
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