Carnegie Mellon Spinoff Astrobotic Technology Assembles Prototype of Lunar Water-Prospecting Robot

October 08, 2012

Astrobotic Technology Inc. has completed assembly of a full-size prototype of Polaris, a solar-powered robot that will search for potentially rich deposits of water ice at the moon's poles. The first of its kind, Polaris can accommodate a drill to bore one meter into the lunar surface and can operate in a lunar regions characterized by dark, long shadows and a sun that hugs the horizon.

Astrobotic, a Carnegie Mellon University spinoff that develops robotics technology for planetary missions, is developing Polaris for an expedition to the moon's northern pole. It would launch from Cape Canaveral atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The company, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon, seeks to win the Google Lunar X Prize of more than $20 million.

Polaris is a flight prototype, but has the same configuration as the rover that will eventually land on the moon. This will enable Astrobotic team members to spend the coming months testing and improving the robot's computer vision, navigation and planning software, and software that can plot the rover's position on the moon within 10 feet. It includes a number of flight-worthy components, including wheels and chassis beams constructed of light, but tough composite materials.

Continue to the Carnegie Mellon press release.