Michigan Tech robotics team continues work on moon rover

If the team keeps up its work, it may end up sending something to the moon some day.
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 6:47 PM EST
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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - After winning NASA’s Big Idea Challenge, Michigan Tech’s space robotics team plans to continue its work on the “T-REX” robot.

Paul van Susante, an assistant professor in the mechanical engineering department, said the entire contest was held remotely. That means schools across the country were able to compete from their own labs for the year-long contest.

“The T-REX robot was designed, built, and tested in this room,” said van Susante. “The Planetary Surface Technology Lab at Michigan Tech.” He explained the school received about $160,000 to fund the research and development.

Van Susante said the robot mainly has two important functions.

First of all, the robot will be able to deliver power to dark craters on the Moon. It would facilitate the harvesting of ice in those craters and be able to charge other robots. Secondly, the T-REX could host networks like a router. It would allow communication between devices in the field.

Elijah Cobb, MI Tech student and member of the robotics team, said the goal of this project is to assist astronauts.

“They can’t do everything themselves,” said Cobb. “They don’t want to be out shoveling themselves for ice... that’s where we come in.”

Winning the NASA competition was not easy. NASA’s “BIG” Idea Challenge is an acronym for breakthrough, innovative, and game-changing.

“I’m just very proud of the students,” said van Susante. “It was an honor to present to the judges.”

Cobb added that he thinks his team was well-suited for the contest.

“Our team is really special because every single person is really good at something,” said Cobb. “So everyone kind of has their spot and we all rely on each other a lot for that shared knowledge.”

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