June 14, 2013
Astrobotic Technology Inc. is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based company that designs space robotics technology for planetary missions. Spun out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2008, the Astrobotic team is working to develop projects for planetary exploration, science, tourism, resource utilization and mining.
The RAs met with several officials from Astrobotic, including John Thorton, President, Steven Huber, Director of Structures and Mechanisms and Director of Business Development, and Kevin Peterson, Director of Guidance, Navigation, and Control. These officials presented an overview and history of the company, including an in-depth discussion of Astrobotic’s primary mission, an autonomous lunar lander and rover for the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition, set to launch in 2015. This mission will initially explore the prospects for water at the lunar poles and eventually investigate volcanic caves on the lunar surface.
During the second portion of the tour, the RAs visited various robotics laboratories on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University, meeting with several professors and graduate student researchers along the way. Highlights included a DARPA Grand Challenge Humvee, an autonomous cave exploring rover with 3D laser imaging capability, and BallBot, a human-sized robot capable of maneuvering atop a single spherical wheel.