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Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 5:21 EDT

NASA and the Cleantech Open Partner in Robotics Challenge

September 22, 2011

NASA has selected The Cleantech Open of Redwood, Calif., to manage the agency’s Night Rover Challenge that will culminate in a competition in fall 2012. The event is a new Centennial Challenges prize competition seeking revolutionary energy storage technologies for future space robotic rover missions. NASA is offering a prize purse of $1.5 million to challenge winners.

The Night Rover Challenge is to demonstrate solar energy collection and storage systems suitable for rovers to operate through several cycles of daylight and darkness. During daylight, systems can collect photons or thermal energy from the sun. During darkness, the stored energy would be used to move the rover toward a destination and to continue its exploration work.

“The Cleantech Open runs the world’s largest clean technology business competition and is a proven leader in developing clean technology startup entrepreneurs” said Larry Cooper, program executive for NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The team has significant experience in tech entrepreneurship and innovation, and access to expertise in aerospace, making them a great choice to manage the Night Rover challenge. We look forward to the competition and bringing together innovative teams with creative problem-solving ideas.”

The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in energy storage technology and system designs for space operations. In particular, NASA seeks solutions to meet the demands imposed by the daylight and darkness cycle on the moon. Energy innovations stemming from this challenge may be beneficial to broader terrestrial applications, including vehicles and renewable energy generation systems.

The Cleantech Open team is partnering with YouNoodle Inc., a San Francisco-based startup to manage the competition. The Cleantech Open and YouNoodle will begin preparations for the challenge, publishing rules and registering competitors for the competition.

NASA’s Centennial Challenges seek unconventional solutions to problems of interest to the agency and the nation. NASA provides the prize purse, but the competitions are managed by non-profit organizations that cover the cost of operations through commercial or private sponsorships. Competitors have included private companies, student groups and independent inventors working outside the traditional aerospace industry. Unlike contracts or grants, prizes are awarded only after solutions are demonstrated successfully.

There have been 21 Centennial Challenges competition events since 2005. NASA has awarded $4.5 million to 13 different challenge-winning teams. Centennial Challenges is one of the ten Space Technology programs, managed by NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist. For more information about the program and descriptions of each of the challenge competitions, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/challenges

For updates on the Night Rover Challenge visit: http://nightrover.org/

For more information about NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/oct


Source: NASA