Two-wheel robot shoots for the Moon

Team Frednet conceives 2-wheel robot to compete for Google Lunar X-Prize, a $30 million international competition to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send images and data back to the Earth. The Ask Charlie Control Engineering blog analyzed the prototype robot's stability. Named Just Another Lunar Robot (JALURO), the prototype is one of two designs the team is developing to compete for the Google Lunar X-Prize.


Oak Brook, IL – In a departure from conventional planetary rover design strategies, Team Frednet Google Lunar X-Prize .

JALURO may change the way land AGVs are designed. Source: Team Frednet

Team Frednet comprises three key systems, software, and hardware developers who serve as the leaders and overall coordinators of an international group of open source developers, engineers, and scientists. The team says its goal (besides winning the Google Lunar X Prize), is to bring the same successful approach used in developing major software systems (such as the Internet, and Linux) to bear on the problems associated with space exploration and research. In so doing, they plan to establish an Open Space Foundation that provides incentives, education, and funding to future individuals and organizations seeking opportunities in this final frontier.
“We hope to foster greater public interest in space exploration and research,” says team organizer and leader Fred J. Bourgeois, III, “as well as educate the public at large on the past, present, and future importance of these discoveries, while simultaneously (through our open-source initiative) giving individual contributors the opportunity to have a very real impact on the world around us all.”
The Google Lunar X Prize is a $30 million international competition to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send images and data back to the Earth. Teams must be at least 90% privately funded and must be registered to compete by Dec. 31, 2010. The first team to land on the Moon and complete the mission objectives will be awarded $20 million; the full first prize is available until December 31, 2012. After that date, the first prize will drop to $15 million. The second team to do so will be awarded $5 million. Another $5 million will awarded in bonus prizes. The final deadline for winning the prize is Dec. 31, 2014.
The main development challenge for the JALURO project is overcoming an inherent rocking instability, which Control Engineering senior editor C.G. Masi has analyzed and says is surmountable. He outlines the instability and suggests the solution in a Jan. 19, 2009, posting on the

Ask Charlie blog

. By reducing the number of wheels, the JALURO design promises to reduce AGV weight and mechanical complexity. Once the rocking instability is solved, the design could be used for any type of land AGV. It would be especially useful for small surveillance vehicles as well as planetary exploration rovers.
The AIMing for Automated Vehicles blog also discusses "

To the Moon Alice, then Mars


– Edited by C.G. Masi ,
Control Engineering News Desk
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