2007 – The Regolith Excavation Challenge is a nation-wide competition under NASA’s Centennial Challenges prize program to promote development of new technologies by a “citizen inventor.” Teams competed on May 12, 2007 for a $250,000 prize purse, provided by Centennial Challenges.
In this challenge, teams designed and built robots to excavate simulated lunar soil, or “regolith.” Teams then tested their robots in a box containing simulated lunar regolith. To qualify, a robot needed to dig and dump at least 330 pounds of regolith into a container in 30 minutes.
“Excavation of lunar regolith is an important and necessary step toward using the resources on the moon to establish a successful base for life on its surface,” said NASA’s acting Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Douglas R. Cooke. “The unique physical properties of the lunar regolith make excavation a difficult technical challenge,” he added.
A video of the digger can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8P9WUXPu2M