"The students at today's competition are the Caterpillar engineers of tomorrow," said Caterpillar Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Tana Utley. "Caterpillar has a long history of supporting educational opportunities that promote the STEM areas. We need to encourage and foster ingenuity and innovative thinking to current and future generations – it's what our customers expect and deserve."
The competition will ask participants to design and build excavation systems that could be used for future lunar exploration. Teams will test their designs head to head in order to see which of them can excavate the most simulated lunar dirt over a specific period of time. The event’s judge panel will be lead by Caterpillar Automation Manager, Eric Reiners.
"Educational outreach has been an important part of our collaborations with NASA, and we look forward to continuing this focus with the Lunabotics Mining Competition," said Reiners. "While the applications showcased during the event have an eye toward the sky, these technologies could have a positive impact on current mining operations on this planet. The development of autonomous mining and hauling systems will ultimately help Cat customers boost efficiency and increase profitability."
Along with Reiners' participation, Caterpillar will also be providing apparel for the students (22 graduate & undergraduate teams are currently enroled in the competition), judges and staff. In addition to that, Caterpillar dealer, Rising Power, will be supplying a 277C Multi Terrain Loader to provide a physical link aimed at showcasing the technologies Caterpillar and NASA are developing.