| Members of the BIT, Patna, test their robot at the institute on Thursday. Picture by Jai Prakash |
Ten techies from BIT, Patna, are preparing for a voyage to Nasa.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has invited the 10 engineers from Birla Institute of Technology to participate in the fourth annual Lunabotics Mining Competition at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, US, from May 20 to 24.
The aim of the competition is to develop a fully functional robot capable of mining the surface of the moon. This is the third time that techies from BIT, Patna, would participate at the globally acclaimed competition. Around 56 teams from all over the world would take part in the meet.
Nasa’s Lunabotics Mining Competition is a university-level event designed to engage and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The competition encourages innovation among the students. The ideas generated at the contest may also benefit Nasa in its lunar missions.
Winners of the competition will get an opportunity to participate in the Nasa Desert Research and Technology Studies. It also plans to incorporate the winning design in its scheme of things, while planning its Moon Mission 2020, after incorporating a few changes.
The BIT team, Gurutva, is led by fourth-year student of electrical engineering, Pooja Mahanty. The team would be supervised by two faculty members M. Hasan and Shahruddhin.
“This is the third time techies from BIT, Patna, are going to participate at the competition. This time our focus is to win the contest,” said Mahanty. Amit Mangoliwala, a third-year mechanical engineering student who will be part of the team, said: “This time we have reduced the weight of the robot. With the reduction of weight by using fewer components, we have a good chance of performing well in the competition.”
The first time the BIT team had participated in the competition there was no limitation on the weight of the robots. The robot was around 80kg in the first year, the next year the weight was reduced to 73kg, with Nasa fixing the upper limit of the robot to 80kg. However, this year, the techies have reduced its weight to 50kg.
In the 2012 competition, the BIT team had ranked 21. Nasa judges three best teams on various categories. The team winning the first prize gets $5,000, the second gets $3,000, while the third team gets $1,000.
Explaining the nuances of the machine they are creating, Shakti Kumar Gautam, a third-year production engineering student, said: “Our focus is to develop a low-cost and technologically superior rover-cum-excavator. The robot is designed on the principle of Archimedes Screw.”
The project costs around Rs 10 lakh and the students are expecting sponsorship from corporate companies.