Alpha Wire Helps Embry-Riddle University Shoot for the Moon

Jan. 24, 2013
Students in the Robotics Association at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University have been hard at work designing their Lunabot to compete in the 2013 NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition. Alpha Wire was able to support the RAER team with EcoWire for their application.

The Robotics Association, a student organization at the Daytona Beach campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU, is the parent organization of many student teams that compete in seven different international competitions. There are five competitions sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the NASA Lunabotics Competition, and the Australian DSTO sponsored Multi Autonomous Ground-robotic International Competition. All require students to carefully document their work and present their designs to expert judges from industry and government.

RAER students are expected to compete in the 2013 NASA Fourth Annual  Lunabotics Mining Competition on May 20-24th, 2013. This university-level competition is designed to engage and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The challenge is for students to design and build an excavator, called a Lunabot, that can mine and deposit a minimum of 10 kilograms of lunar simulant within 10 minutes. The complexities of the challenge include the abrasive characteristics of the BP-1, the weight and size limitations of the Lunabot, and the ability to telerobotically or autonomously control the Lunabot from a remote mission control center.

This year the scoring for the mining category will not be based primarily on the amount of material excavated in the allowed time, but instead will require teams to consider a number of design and operation factors such as dust tolerance and projection, communications, vehicle mass, energy/power required, and full autonomy.

EcoWire was used in various wiring solutions, ranging from sensor data transmission to high voltage power systems. EcoWire as a lightweight and thin wiring solution appropriate for working with compact vehicles where size and weight are often major constraints. EcoWire also achieves increased performance in a wire that is fully recyclable by using a unique insulation, a modified polyphenylene ether (mPPE) thermoplastic. mPPE-based insulation is non-halogenated and contains no heavy metal pigments, allowing it to help manufacturers meet Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) requirements.

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