UMass Lowell Rover Hawks:
NASA RASC-AL Robo-Ops 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Thank you

Hello, everyone.  It's been an incredible week for the Rover Hawks.  We'd like to thank all of you for following our team's progress on our blog and on Facebook.

Thank you to all of our sponsors: NASA, the National Institute of Aerospace, Harvest Automation, Scanning Devices, Ideas Inc., and SolidWorks.

The competition at JSC was very well run.  Many thanks to Stacy Dees, Shelley Spears, and Kelsey Glomb of NIA for organizing the competition and to the RASC-AL Robo-Ops Steering Committee: Pat Troutman, NASA Langley Research Center; Doug Stanley, National Institute of Aerospace; Lyndon Bridgwater, NASA Johnson Space Center; Sharon Jefferies, NASA Langley Research Center; Lucien Junkin, NASA Johnson Space Center; Lane Honeycutt, NASA Johnson Space Center; and Raymond Guo, General Motors (NASA JSC).  Additionally, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all of the NASA JSC employees who gave us amazing tours of the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, Mission Control, and the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility. 

Finally, thanks to everyone at UMass Lowell and the NERVE Center for supporting and promoting our entry into this year's RASC-AL Robo-Ops Competition.  It truly was a team effort, and we appreciate all of your help.

Go Rover Hawks!

Photos from the past week

If you'd like to see photos from the past week, we have two photo sets on Flickr.

The first is a small set of photos of our team, both at the JSC Rock Yard and NERVE.

The second has many more photos from the week, including our tours and other teams.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Close up of the plaque

We won!!!!!

Photos from NERVE Center mission control

During the Rover Hawks' run today a small crowd gathered at the NERVE Center to watch them and cheer them on. Below are some photos of what we saw through the rover's cameras, as well as other celebratory shenanigans (i.e. the enormous bell we rang every time a rock was found and placed in the rover's basket).

Moon rocks

This afternoon's tour is to see moon rocks.

Students with rovers

Recorded streams from the user interface and main camera

You can watch our runs from today below:

Main Camera

All 8 rovers

First place on the rock yard

With all teams having run, we have the top score on the rock yard. However, since our performance is only 60% of our overall score, it is still to be seen if we can hold on to first place. Fingers crossed.


Climbing to the top of Mount Cosmo at the end of our RASC-AL Robo-Ops

In first place!

With two teams to go, we are in first place!

Improvised shade

 It is really hot out here. Shading the robot until we start in five minutes.

Moving up to Mount Cosmo

Last minute checks

Checking mast deployment from the UMass Lowell NERVE Center. We start our run in 45 minutes.  Watch the view from mission control on our USTREAMS (post below).

Mission Control at the NERVE Center

While mission control at the NERVE Center might not be as flashy, it's definitely enough to teleoperate our rover! Our phone isn't red though, which isn't nearly as cool...

Live Streams

Hey Everyone,

We will be live streaming both our main camera view and our mission control screen during today's run. We will be competing at 10:15-11:15 central ( 11:15-12:15 EST ). The two streams can be found below. Go RoverHawks! and good luck to Mission Control!

Mission Control

Live video for mobile from Ustream

Main Camera

Live video from your iPhone using Ustream

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mission Control

Today, we were given a tour of the ISS Mission Control and of the Mission Control center used for the Apollo missions (and later for shuttle missions). On this special tour, we had four Flight Directors to explain how Mission Control works and answer our questions. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Thanks NASA!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Weigh In

The robots have been weighed in. 

We were the third lightest, giving us the third selection for time. We had wanted to go on Thursday morning, which we were able to get. 

We will post details on how you can watch our run later. For now, we are off for a tour of JSC. 

Lunch on NASA china

Our lunch today was served on NASA china. 

The team really liked the churros. 

The rover makes it up the hill!

When we first started planning for the competition, this hill scared us. Today, the rover drove up it, controlled from NERVE, with no problems.

The rover was able to come down on a steeper side of the hill as well. 

First Commands from Mission Control at NERVE

The rover is now being driven by our mission control at the NERVE Center. 

The rover's first time on the Rock Yard

The rover has made its first foray onto the JSC Rock Yard. 

Mars rock samples

The Martians have conveniently spray painted interesting rock samples for our rovers to find. 

Skyping from NERVE to JSC

The mission control team at the NERVE Center got a virtual tour of the JSC Rock Yard via Skype. Here are some screenshots:

Setting up under the tent

We have arrived at the JSC Rock Yard

Day 1 Schedule

Good morning everyone.  Today will be our first day at JSC with the Rover Hawk, where we'll have our first chance to try our robot on the JSC Rock Yard.  The competition's schedule today is for practicing with our rovers and to make any necessary tweaks to the robots.  Our team members back in Lowell at the NERVE Center will be driving the robot, just as they will be during the competition.

This afternoon, from 3-3:30 CDT, the rovers will be weighed.  According to the competition rules, the lightest robot picks their competition time slot first, followed by the other rovers in order of increasing weight:
The day of the competition, on-site team members are not allowed to communicate any information about the course or the other teams’ performance to their off-site team members. However, teams going later in the day can watch the camera feed from the other team’s rovers. This affords an advantage to teams that go later in the competition. NASA and NIA have developed a method for teams to compete for time slots they desire – based on the weight of Team rovers. A 45-kg mass limit has been established for each rover. Because NASA has an interest in reducing mass wherever possible, we will allow the lightest rover to select the time slot of their choice. The second lightest will have second choice, and so forth.
Throughout our design process, our goal was to have as light of a robot as possible.  We eagerly anticipate finding out how we did relative to the other teams.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A note to our robot

Dear Rover,

Just because we were excited to make a trip to Fry's, three trips is excessive for one day.  Fewer trips tomorrow, please.


Soon all robots will demand water views

Our hotel is at the edge of Clear Lake. The rover has a great view as it is being reassembled after our flight to Houston. 

Having passed Fry's on the drive from the airport, we have found reasons to go there tonight. 

Tomorrow morning, we will take the rover over to JSC.  Can't wait to try the Rover Hawk on the JSC Rock Yard!

Headed for Houston

Three Pelican cases, ready to check on our 6am flight to Houston.  The one pictured holds the main body of the rover.