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UNF students compete in NASA’s Lunabotics 2022 competition

Osprey Robotics teamA team of seven University of North Florida students recently participated in NASA’s Robotic Mining Competition Lunabotics 2022.

Affectionately named the “Osprey Miner,” the UNF robot was designed and constructed through the year-long contributions of over a dozen students from the School of Computing, School of Engineering and the Osprey Robotics Student Club, co-advised by Dr. Ayan Dutta in computing, Dr. Patrick Kreidl in electrical engineering, and Dr. Amir MajidiRad in mechanical engineering.

The competition is a part of the Artemis Student Challenges, designed to engage and retain students in STEM fields by expanding opportunities for student research and design in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. The project provides a competitive environment to foster innovative ideas and solutions that potentially could be used on future NASA missions to the Moon or even Mars.

Students are challenged to build an excavation robot to test remote-controlled automation under different terrains, which would be the most viable option to initially construct essential life-sustaining modules and habitats on the moon or other planets. The lessons learned from the past decade of Lunabotics challenges are an important component to the engineering knowledge base that NASA will draw from to address lunar excavation/construction challenges.

The competition imposes numerous qualifying milestones throughout the year, including adequate technical output (e.g., design documents and functional demonstrations) as well as adequate business/marketing output (e.g., grant proposals and fund-raising). This year, less than half of all universities that initially registered successfully produced a qualified robot that passed all the requirements.

The UNF team who traveled to the Kennedy Space Center for this year’s competition included mechanical engineering students Caleb Acquah, Sarah Nguyen and Brendon O’Roarke; electrical engineering students Jason Branch and Jeremy Granger; and information science students Zain Malik and Maria Rea.