Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

NASA's Robotic Mining Competition

Calin Solomon, a fourth-year engineering student, led the team, with help from adviser
Richard Bachmann, an adjunct instructor in mechanical engineering. The team redesigned and built from scratch an upgraded version of last year's bucket wheel excavator rover. This year's design focus was on significantly cutting weight, optimizing on-board modules, and improvising the rover's driving capabilities. Improvements from last year design included an all aluminum welded frame, aluminum module structures, a higher capacity hopper, a more stable bucket wheel, improved electronics bay lay out and accessibility, and cupped wheels for better traction.

At the competition, the team's robot mined and brought back 3 kg of Martian regolith in 10 minutes, a team record. The team also received the Regolith Mechanics Innovation Award for its wheel design, an award presented for a mechanical design that showed innovation in traversing and dealing with the tricky martian regolith.

If you'd like to see more pictures from our competition or stay up to date on our projects, please visit and "Like" our Facebook page.