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Carnegie Mellon University Robot Will Demonstrate Concept For Continuous Solar-Powered Exploration of Planets and Moons

BY Byron Spice - Tue, 2001-06-19 12:00  Printer-friendly version

EVENT: See a demonstration of a prototype, autonomous solar-powered robot developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute with support from NASA. The robot, named Hyperion, has the potential to be self-sufficient for extended periods of time. In July, it will be taken to Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic, where it will test a concept called Sun-Synchronous Navigation, which involves tracking the sun for power while exploring terrain. The robot will travel opposite to Earth's rotation and in synchrony with the sun. It must reason about its position and orientation with respect to the sun while exploring its surroundings. It must navigate to capture enough sunlight to power itself while traveling and trying to reach important scientific objectives. Solar-powered robots are not new, but this concept may enable them to obtain continuous solar power for long-term exploration of distant planets and moons. Several weeks of experiments will be conducted to measure the robot's performance, test computer algorithms and build up to integrated experiments that will take place over 24-hour periods of continuous sunlight. Carnegie Mellon's research team will validate the parameters that will allow sun-synchronous explorers to be developed for other planets. For some missions, by following the dawn, these rovers may also be able to regulate their temperatures by staying in the transition region between frigid night and scorching daytime temperatures. The team leaves for Devon Island July 3. Experiments will begin around July 10 and conclude by July 20. There is a narrow window of opportunity after the snow has melted in mid-July and before the sun sinks below the surrounding hills toward the end of the month.

WHERE:

National Robotics Engineering Consortium (REC), 40th Street beside the Allegheny River in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh. Signs will be posted to guide reporters to the exact site. In the event of rain, the demonstration will take place in the REC building.

WHEN:

10 a.m, Monday, June 25. For more about Hyperion and Sun-Synchronous Navigation, see http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/sunsync.

For More Information: 

Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 | bspice [atsymbol] cs ~replace-with-a-dot~ cmu ~replace-with-a-dot~ edu