Allied Electronics & Automation Partners With Colorado State Robotics Team for Moon Mining Competition

This contest challenges students to prototype a vehicle capable of conducting autonomous mining operations on the surface of the Moon.

Colorado State University

CSU prototype lunar mining robot for NASA's Robotic Mining Competition.
Allied Electronics is sponsoring students from CSU's Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering to help them improve excavation robots for the Lunabotics contest.

As part of its efforts to promote STEM education and innovation, Allied Electronics & Automation has announced that it will sponsor a team from Colorado State University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering for the NASA Robotic Mining Competition (RMC) for a fourth consecutive year. As part of the sponsorship agreement, Allied provides a monetary grant to the team, access to critical components and parts, and advice from Allied’s in-house engineering experts to assist CSU’s team in developing a lunar mining vehicle for the NASA competition.

“Our sponsorship of the CSU Lunabotics team is a natural way for Allied to better provide these student engineers with the resources, expertise and materials they need to innovate and further their technical and professional development,” said Ken Bradley, president of Allied Electronics and Automation Americas. “NASA’s Lunabotics RMC competition helps inspire the next generation of engineers to literally reach for the stars with their innovation, and we’re excited to see what solutions this team of bright young people from CSU will come up with.”

The annual NASA Lunabotics RMC in the Artemis Student Challenge provides U.S. colleges and universities the opportunity to train their students using NASA engineering methods by designing, building and operating a lunar excavator prototype.

Over the past three years, the CSU team has built and refined a robotic vehicle suitable for harsh moon mining operations that can autonomously avoid obstacles, extract material from the lunar surface, transport it to a deposit point and geolocate itself without the aid of GPS.

Each year, the Lunabotics RMC competitors improve the designs of their excavation robots from past years with better mechanical systems and improved sensors and autonomy software. The teams participate in multiple events throughout the year, and the CSU team has continued to improve its robot despite the 2020 on-site competition being cancelled due to COVID-19.

The CSU team said it has made significant upgrades to its vehicle in 2021, replacing its previous auger mining system with a system of buckets on a ladder belt that scoop material from the ground and deposit it into a storage container which actuates like a dump truck.

NASA's Robotic Mining Competition is continuing as Lunabotics 2021. Source: NASA

“I have been continuously amazed by how much the students can accomplish by the end of their senior design project, launching them into a wide variety of engineering careers,” said Dr. Jianguo Zhao, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and technical advisor for the NASA RMC team. “This is possible thanks to the generous support from Allied Electronics.”

About Allied Electronics & Automation

Allied Electronics & Automation is a high-service distributor of automation and control, electronic, electrical, mechanical, and maintenance products from more than 500 suppliers. The company has sales offices across the Americas, a focus on digital customer experience, 99% ship-to-order accuracy, and more than 3.5 million parts available for purchase online. Allied said that engineers, designers, maintainers, and purchasers trust it to provide a wide range of systems across the entire product lifecycle.

About CSU’s Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering

The Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering trains students to engage the global environmental challenges of the day through research, education, innovation, and outreach. Among its many accolades as an ABET-accredited institution are a top-ranked graduate program in Atmospheric Science and cutting-edge research that provides students hands-on learning in chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical and biomedical engineering.

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Colorado State University

CSU prototype lunar mining robot for NASA's Robotic Mining Competition.

Robot Technologies