NASA Rover Challenge

The RISD rover is a human powered vehicle designed, built and tested by RISD students for NASA's annual Human Exploration Rover Challenge.

The NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge (previously named the Great Moonbuggy Race) was originally conceived in 1994 to mimic the challenges that Apollo engineers faced when designing the first ‘Moonbuggy.’ The competition is held annually at the US Space & Rocket Centre in Huntsville, AL. As a senior that has been a part of the RISD Rover club in both 2015 and 2016, I had the privilege of leading and coordinating the design of the 2017 iteration of the vehicle.

Our past successes were built on a rigorous and methodical design process as well as careful craftsmanship. Though we were one of the only non-engineering programs to participate in this competition, we had done well enough win several awards in the past, including prized technology and design awards as well as the second place in 2016. What we lacked in the technical background was made up through our extensive hands-on experience creating various materials and processes as well as a keen awareness of human factors and ergonomics.

The final result was a back-to-back recumbent that featured two riders in line, which kept the center of gravity distributed evenly front-and-back and side-to-side as well as giving the riders an ergonomic position. Weighing in at 126lb, it was officially the lightest vehicle to contend which gained us the Featherweight Award. Additionally, it finished in second place in a field of approximately 40 contestants from around the world. Lastly, it took the AIAA Best Report Award for most insightful analysis of both the design and the design process. A conclusive success, our rover successfully navigated the simulated Martian terrain all the while providing insights for designing vehicles in our future forays into extra-planetary exploration.

Team members were Adrian Roop, Carmen Schweizer, Clare Jessey, Clarke Waskowitz, David Walden, Iman Serag, Jason Chang, Lily Douglas, Max Reice, Ryan Smith, Sung Wha Kang and Clayton Wiggers.

Our faculty advisor was Michael Lye.

NBC 10 WJARProvidence Journal2017 NASA Rover Challenge Results