Big Freewheeling Digger 3

2009 – The third of three years of consecutive NASA Regolith Excavation Challenges…finally, qualifiers!

“Nineteen teams pushed their robotic competitors to the limit and three teams claimed a total of $750,000 in NASA prizes for their hard work and innovation at this year’s Regolith Excavation Challenge held at NASA’s Ames Research Center on Moffett Field. After two days of intense competitive drama, organizers conferred Paul’s Robotics of Worcester, MA, with the first place title, second went to Terra Engineering of Gardena, CA, and Team Braundo of Rancho Palos Verde, CA, took home third.”

Unlike the rules in 2008 that required the robot to be autonomous, the 2009 challenge required tele-robotic operation, the remotely controlled vehicles to contain their own power sources, and to weigh no more than 176 pounds.

BFD 3 excavated 595 pounds of regolith within the allotted 30 minutes.

Regolith was more dense than expected, so smaller wheels were implemented (compared to the 2008 BFD 2 design)

At the competition – 2nd Place = $150,000!
From left to right (back row): Ken Sterk, Denny Gudea, Todd Mendenhall (team captain), Rob Sweeney; (front row): Jim Hart, Greg Shreve
More details about the BFD team can be found here:
The entry video for the 2009 competition can be viewed at:
A detailed user interface (GUI) was designed to facilitate the remote control, and to simulate tele-robotic operations (no visual line of sight to the robot, and a 4 second delay to represent the time lag in command & control from Earth to the moon and back).
Terra Engineering’s GUI is shown here:

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