The Right Stuff: CMU’s Lunar Robot Wins Google Prize

The four-wheeled “Andy” is part of a Pittsburgh-led Moon mission.

Photo Courtesy of Carnegie mellon university


A group of students, faculty and staff at Carnegie Mellon University has taken the first giant step toward building a robot that could go to the moon.

Their four-wheeled robot, named Andy, has earned a $500,000 Milestone Prize for demonstrating that it has mobility and toughness to get around on the lunar surface.

The award is part of Google’s Lunar XPrize, which is offering up big bucks to inspire pioneers to do “robotic space transport on a budget.”

“Andy has proven to be a tough, smart, sure-footed machine,” said William “Red” Whittaker, professor of robotics, who led a team of about 50 students, faculty and staff members from across the CMU campus to create the rover. “We’ve shaken it to simulate launch forces, driven it through moon dirt and exposed it to the extremes of lunar temperatures among many, many tests. Our team and our machine faced a rigorous evaluation by world-class judges and came out on top.”

The prize money will be used to continue Andy’s development.

Carnegie Mellon is partnering with Astrobotic Technology to compete with other private firms for Google’s grand prize of $20 million for landing and operating a robot on the moon.

Teams in the competition have until the end of 2015 to submit a launch schedule and must complete the lunar journey by the end of 2016.

As you can see, Andy’s creators can barely contain their excitement and enthusiasm for the project.

Planetary Robotics Team Introductions from Carnegie Mellon Lunar Team on Vimeo.



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