Lightweight Robotic Excavation

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX11CB55C
Agency Tracking Number: 094900
Amount: $749,956.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2009
Solicitation Topic Code: X6.01
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
PA, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213-3524
DUNS: 019738852
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 David Gump
 Principal Investigator
 (412) 682-3282
Business Contact
 David Gump
Title: Business Official
Phone: (703) 703-9616
Research Institution
Lightweight robotic excavators address the need for machines that dig,collect, transport and dump lunar soil. Robust and productive smallrobots enable mining rich and accessible deposits of ice and othervolatiles buried near craters at the lunar poles, delivering resources toproduce propellant, and thus making space exploration sustainable.Lightweight excavators bridge the gap between prospecting and full-scaleISRU.A lightweight robot is proposed that excavates and delivers regolith withproduction so superior to the state of the art as to enable realisticlunar and planetary applications. Demonstration of light weight will beachieved by operating a low mass robot in Earth gravity reduced 5/6 byoffloading.The significance of the proposed innovation is an approach that not onlyperforms the required tasks but is low in mass (30 kg to 150 kg). Massconstraints make productive excavation challenging. However, innovativedesigns incorporating transverse bucket-wheels, high payload compositedump beds, and high-speed driving are game changers, enabling regolithoperations in low gravity. Phase 1 experimental results show that payloadratio and driving speed govern productivity of small robots.Phase 2 will elevate TRLs from 3 at the beginning to an estimated 4 or 5at end of contract.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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