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WVU Robotics Team Wins at the NASA Centennial Challenge

For the third straight year, WVU students have swept the competition at NASA’s Centennial Challenge. The robot, Cataglyphis, scored 11 points to win the Level 2 competition for the Sample Robot Return competition. WVU’s team is the only team to ever win a Level 2 competition, an accomplishment repeated consecutively for two years.

The team was awarded $750,000 for their success; the highest award ever granted in the history of the competition. Their total earnings over their three years of victory total to $855,000. In their first competition, they were awarded $5,000 for a Level 1 victory. For last year’s Level 2 victory, they were awarded $100,000.

The Centennial Challenges were created to allow everyday citizens and engineers to assist in helping NASA prepare for complex issues in space exploration.  This particular challenge is focused on maturing the technology of rovers that are used to explore the Martian surface. For this year’s competition, the team’s robot autonomously traveled over 20 acres of land to gather four samples of varying difficulty over a 2-hour time period.

“The win is an impressive display of technology that is being developed at West Virginia University,” according to Dr. Thomas Evans, Director of the WV Robotic Technology Center.   “NASA’s Sample Return Challenge is a great event for the students and faculty at WVU to showcase their capabilities in robotics and space exploration. Yu Gu has done an excellent job leading the team along with support from Powsiri Klinkhachorn, Jason Gross and Marvin Cheng.”

“Our aim at WVU is to grow the robotics program to be one of the best in the nation,” Evans continued. “The students and faculty involved in this program have helped us to get closer to achieving that goal.”


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