Take control of a moon rover with the Remote Rover Experiment project
July 28, 2012
If you’ve ever yearned to take part in a space program but haven’t been given the chance, then perhaps you should take a look at the Remote Rover Experiment (RRE) Kickstarter campaign. Created by a team named Part-Time Scientists (PTS), the project aims to involve the general public in testing technology which will eventually be sent to the moon. Available pledge points include the option to remote-pilot an Asimov R3A moon rover in an Earth-based location modeled after the Apollo 17 landing site, and the purchase of an Asimov R0 moon rover self-assembly kit.
The 100-strong collection of hobbyists, hackers, scientists and engineers who make up the PTS team believe that space exploration should be accessible to everyone and the RRE Kickstarter project complements the team's wider goal of taking part in the US$30 million Google Lunar X-Prize competition to land a rover on the moon.
The RRE Kickstarter project brings to mind the ReMY project we previously covered but appears to be far more ambitious in scope. Pledges of $12 or more will secure a RRE Voucher which can be redeemed in order to allow the buyer to remote-pilot an Asimov R3A rover prototype over the internet, within a 200 square meter (2,152 sq ft) artificial lunar surface, conducting tests which will actually go toward preparing the Asimov rover for an eventual mission to the moon.
The pilot can choose between two scenarios - a realistic but challenging “Commander” mode, or an easier and more fun “Explorer” mode. Upon completion, there will be a test-pilot certificate and the option to download a recording of the test.
Those who pledge $500 or more will receive the same RRE Voucher, in addition to an Asimov R0 rover self-assembly kit, shown assembled above. The Asimov R0 is said to be controllable from PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone via a self-developed Bluetooth protocol.
"It has a four wheeled configuration with 360 degrees of freedom to rove where it wants to," said PTS team member Robert Boehme about the Asimov R0. "It's got a vector based control which means it can go sidewards as well as any direction desired - there is no 'back and forth', as there no front or back. This is quite extraordinary, as all rovers we've sent to space so far had six or eight wheels."
In order for the RRE Kickstarter campaign to be successful, it must raise a minimum of $100,000 by August 23 and the funds gained will go toward the construction of the aforementioned artificial lunar surface and accompanying equipment, as well as several surplus Asimov R3A rover prototypes which act as standby units.
The promo video below explains the PTS team's plans in more detail.