Self-directed robots roamed across the grassy terrain at Worcester Polytechnic Institute searching for samples to gather at the 2012 Sample Return Robot Challenge in Worcester, Mass, June 14-17. The challenge: plan, build up and show the next generation of robots capable of exploring the landscapes of other worlds.
Eleven teams initially registered for the challenge. Six teams complete it to WPI for the start of the challenge. After weigh-in and inspections, one team effectively met all necessities and competed in the challenge but did not win a cash prize.
WPI was the first university to offer a bachelor's degree program in robotics engineering. In 2009, a WPI robotics group took home $500,000 in NASA prize money after captivating the Regolith Excavation Challenge. The competition has demonstrated the difficulty in developing truly autonomous robotic systems for future space exploration. Prizes are merely awarded once all specifications are met. No prizes were awarded during this contest; NASA's $1.5 million prize purse will remain accessible for future Centennial Challenges