Lunar Rover Challenge: What, Who and How!
Coordinators of Shaastra at IIT Chennai, put together a fantastic arena within the open air theatre of the institute campus, displaying an amazing selection of topography and artefacts. In fact, Iron Man himself paid a visit to check out some of the lunar artefacts!
Engineering students from across India assembled to answer the Lunar Rover Challenge 2014. And they were a pretty smart bunch — most of them moved away from the conventional Zigbee-based telecommunication to a wi-fi based one. Some even hacked their way through radio controllers and FPV systems, while concentrating on the terrain traversal capabilities of their Rovers.
Not that there weren’t sudden tragedies as well — the OS crash of a beagle bone black forced one team to withdraw while the dynamic IP on a Raspberry Pi rendered another rover uncontrollable. Plus, a chain-based, panther-like locomotion system attracted multiple penalties because it required constant maintenance due to slipping of the chain from the sprockets.
Some teams also failed due to issues of power mismanagement as their PI-based controller sucked in the entire power, draining the battery quickly and thereby leaving not enough power for their actuators.
As the moon shone, 28 teams completed their prelims and 12 of them moved forward to the final round. Now that they were more familiar with things, teams charged towards the checkpoints while carefully exploring the artefacts after fixing the problems that they faced during ‘Filter’ Round. As they explored the lunar-like terrain, they constantly kept the Command Centre updated with the imagery of moonscape.
They received penalties whenever they requested a crew for repositioning or repairing the rover, during which the vyomonauts suited up to reset the rover…
At the end of it all, team X-Men stood winner, S-Five took the second place while PES Chandra, Team Jugaad and Zenith Invaders finished next. Moon Walkers bagged the Best Design of Control Console award while The Dreamers took home the Best Mechanical Design award.
Incidentally, we introduced some of our ‘I Love Space’ merchandise too at the event!
Just in: Several LRC participants are now preparing teams for University Rover Challenge.
Five of the seven Indian teams that are taking part in URC had previously taken part in LRC.
We wish them all the very best!