West Virginians Win Nasa Rover Prize on First Attempt

The only robot to win a prize at Nasa's Sample Return Robot Challenge was built by the West Virginia University students on team Mountaineers. Credit: Nasa

The only robot to win a prize at Nasa's Sample Return Robot Challenge was built by the West Virginia University students on team Mountaineers. Credit: Nasa

Teams of amateur rover-designers converged on the campus of Worcester Polytechnic University last week to take part in Nasa’s Sample Return Robot Challenge. The contest is a Nasa effort to get the public’s help developing innovative space exploration technology. The Sample Return Robot Challenge asks teams to let their robots travel automatically across a varied terrain and recover samples. Nasa hopes to find new ways to make future Mars rovers more independent. (See our Feature Article for more details about the Sample Return Robot Challenge)

17 teams from the United States, Canada, Estonia, and Mexico took part in this year’s competition, but only 1 of the 17 teams retrieved a sample. The Mountaineers, first-time competitors from West Virginia University, won a $5,000 Level One prize.