UB Space Bulls place third during NASA Mars corsair competition in Texas

257 views Leave a comment

Mike Bill was frazzled.

The remote-controlled arm he indispensable to muster to squeeze rocks during a NASA-sponsored Mars corsair foe wouldn’t budge.

To mystify things, a corsair was in Texas. Bill, a rising senior, was inside Bonner Hall on UB’s North Campus.


Thankfully, he had backup. Fellow students — members of a UB Space Bulls — were on a belligerent during NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. They fast bound a arm’s motor, enabling Bill, who confirmed his composure, to assistance finish a mission.

The additional bid paid off. The Space Bulls placed third — their best finish nonetheless — during a RASC-AL Exploration Robo-Ops Competition on Jun 4-5.

“It was really nerve-racking,” says Bill, a Syracuse local majoring in automatic engineering. “But everybody felt some-more assured once a goal started and we were means to collect a initial 3 rocks in underneath 15 minutes.”

Organized by a National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) in Virginia, a foe captivated entries from 34 teams of undergraduate and connoisseur students from colleges and universities nationwide. Only 8 were selected to participate, formed on designs they submitted in a tumble to NIA and NASA, both of that saved a competition.

This year was a fourth time in 5 years that organizers chose a Space Bulls, a student-run group that receives superintendence from expertise members and financial support to foe from UB’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities.

Navigating a Rockyard

Teams contingency navigate their corsair by a array of obstacles during NASA Johnson’s Rockyard, a exam area that simulates Mars. Among a tasks a drudge had to complete: stand a 30-degree slope, cranky silt and silt pits, and collect stone samples adult to 8 centimeters.

In further to 4 cameras that send live footage between Buffalo and Texas, a UB car includes a automatic arm that students built regulating a 3-D printer in one of a university’s engineering labs.

At a contest, a arm’s engine failed, forcing a Space Bulls to act fast — they indispensable to make a repair within 10 mins or they’d be disqualified. The students in Houston came prepared. Working in a prohibited Texas sun, they transposed a engine with a few mins to gangling and resumed a mission.

The bid stirred organizers to give a Space Bulls a RASC-y esteem for best “pit stop,” a humorous endowment that enclosed Batman-themed, two-way radios to compare a team’s Batman-themed hats.

With a arm fixed, Bill and his associate Space Bulls during Bonner put a corsair by a paces, navigating hills and hilly turf while fighting a nasty glisten from a object and sand.

The Space Bulls’ third-place finish was a best yet. Here are a final results:

1: University of Maryland
2: West Virginia University
3: UB
4: University of Utah
5: Virginia Tech
6 (tie): San Jose State University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology
8: California State University, Long Beach

A superb hands-on project

Livio Forte, a rising comparison from Cold Spring Harbor, New York, was one of a Space Bulls to transport to NASA Johnson, home to NASA’s wanderer corps. He says a foe was a superb hands-on project.

“The pattern routine can get stressful when we try to change it and march work, though in a end, a whole foe is a training knowledge and a lot of fun,” he says.

Patrick Troutman, a foe organizer and comparison systems operative during NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia, says a eventuality “exposes NASA experts to a well-developed students that participate.” Plus, he says, a students get front-row entrance to NASA activities and people.

As an combined bonus, NASA is deliberation regulating a best elements of a student-designed robots to emanate a possess exam indication for subsequent year’s competition, Troutman says.

“The robots have developed to a indicate where it’s time to take a best of a innovations and mix them into a exam mule,” Troutman says. “The timing is fortuitous, as a decade from now humans might have entrance to lunar circuit for tele-operating robots on a aspect of a moon, and a decade over that humans might be in circuit around Mars tele-operating on a aspect of Mars.”

The Space Bulls work underneath a superintendence of Kevin Burke, training partner professor, and Jennifer Zirnheld, partner professor, both in a Department of Electrical Engineering. Also providing assistance is Karthik Dantu, partner highbrow of mechanism scholarship and engineering.

“The foe is an extraordinary experience,” Zirnheld says. “Students get to pattern and build their possess indication rover, exam it opposite some of a best universities in a universe and in front of some of inaugural experts in space explorations during NASA and a National Institute of Aerospace.

“We’re looking brazen to subsequent year,” she adds.

Source: State University of New York during Buffalo