2015 NASA and Worcester Polytechnic Institute Sample Return Robot Challenge

NASA and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts, are seeking teams to compete in a robot technology demonstration competition with a potential $1.5 million prize purse.

During the Sample Return Robot Challenge, teams will compete to demonstrate a robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies. Innovations stemming from this challenge may improve NASA’s capability to explore a variety of destinations in space, as well as enhance the nation’s robotic technology for use in industries and applications on Earth.

The competition is planned for June 8-13, 2015, in Worcester, and is anticipated to attract hundreds of competitors from industry and academia nationwide.

Registration is open until Jan. 6, 2015.

For more information about the Sample Return Robot Challenge and to register online for the competition, visit http://challenge.wpi.edu.

The Centennial Challenges program is part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future missions. For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit http://www.nasa.gov/spacetech.

Questions about the Sample Return Robot Challenge should be sent to challenge@wpi.edu.


Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith is Director of Technology for the College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University. In that role, he also directs The Adele & Dale Young Education Technology Center (The YETC) located in room 170 of the Education Building on Utah State University's Logan campus. The YETC is a combination student open­access computer facility, a K­12 curriculum materials library, a NASA Educator Resource Center for Utah, and a technology training center. Nathan served eight years (2004­2012) on the Board of Directors for the Utah Coalition for Education Technology (UCET) He was re­elected in 2014 to serve another two year term on the board. A former elementary school teacher, Nathan has taught students every age from young children to senior citizens. He has had the opportunity beginning in 2011 to train international high school teachers from all over the world about technology in education, through the U.S. State

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