The Google Lunar XPRIZE announced that Andy is the winner of a Milestone Prize for mobility after judges concluded it is thus far the only robot among the competing teams to meet development benchmarks for flight readiness.
"Andy has proven to be a tough, smart, sure-footed machine," said William "Red" Whittaker, professor of robotics, who led a team of about 50 students, faculty and staff members from across the CMU campus to create the rover. "We've shaken it to simulate launch forces, driven it through moon dirt and exposed it to the extremes of lunar temperatures among many, many tests. Our team and our machine faced a rigorous evaluation by world-class judges and came out on top."
"We don't do anything just for a prize," Whittaker added, "but when a check like this comes our way, we cash it." The prize money will be used to continue Andy's development.
The Milestone Prizes created by Google and the XPRIZE Foundation included three categories: landing system, mobility subsystems and imaging subsystems. Astrobotic is continuing to pursue the Milestone Prize for landing systems. Other teams still in the running for Milestone Prizes include Hakuto (Japan), Team Indus (India), Moon Express (U.S.) and Part-Time Scientists (Germany).
To receive the mobility prize, we had to demonstrate that Andy could survive the vacuum, high radiation and extreme cold of the moon. The team also had to show that the robot could complete — and could prove that it completed — a 500-meter traverse on the lunar surface, one of the conditions for winning the Google Lunar XPRIZE.
Andy's prize-winning features include:
- A wide stance, low center-of-gravity and high belly clearance combine for unprecedented stability, slope climbing and straddling of rocks.
- A soft footprint — weighing less than 10 pounds on the moon — and wide wheels give Andy superior mobility, while a novel suspension provides strong pulling power.
- A new method for combining landing imagery with 3-D path reconstruction data to plan and document Andy's exploration route.
- Innovative software that, combined with redundant electronic components, achieves high reliability of electronic systems despite the moon's high radiation levels.
"We continue to see significant progress from our Google Lunar XPRIZE teams, most recently demonstrated in the pursuit of the Milestone Prizes, in which teams exhibited substantial technological achievements that will ultimately support their missions," said Robert K. Weiss, vice chairman and president, XPRIZE.
For more information see our official press release.