No matter how many times people call University of Alabama's Astrobotics team good after winning four titles, they are striving for better. The goal now is to win their fourth NASA Robotic Mining Contest in a row.
"This team has to prove that they can win. Not rely on what previous teams did and beat their chest about what their predecessors did," said Dr. Kenny Ricks, a UA professor.
"The team is student-run, but we all have our faculty adviser Dr. Ricks. Dr. Ricks, we call him Ricks Saban occasionally. We meet weekly with him to really keep on track and make sure we're doing what we need to do and if we're not, we find out about it," said Rebecca Dietz of UA Astrobotics.
For Alabama Astrobotics to make it four-in-a-row, they will have to do something they have never done. New rules say they have to go from 4 inches deep, all the way down to 14 inches deep. They have to go past the sand and reach gravel.
"The bucket ladder is much longer and it's much stronger and more robust and capable of digging significantly deeper than in past years. We also have improved our autonomy system and are working on active obstacle detection and path planning; so we'll actually go around any rocks that are going to be in the arena rather than running over them and potentially damage the rest robot," said Rebecca Dietz UA Astrobotics.
The countdown is running for the NASA Robotic Mining Competition which is scheduled for May 14-18 at the Kennedy Space Center as Bama's brightest engineering students' try to extend their dynasty and help create out of this world technology for future space exploration.
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