NASA launches $15,000 challenge for rover sensor design

Posted at 6:55 AM, Feb 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-24 06:55:52-05

Calling all inventors and innovators! NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is turning to the global community in its search for a "groundbreaking" obstacle avoidance sensor.

JPL, under a grant from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, is studying a mission concept to return to the surface of Venus.

The mission would use the Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE), but the rover needs to be able to detect obstacles. That's where the challenge comes in.

'To assist AREE on its groundbreaking mission concept, JPL needs an equally groundbreaking obstacle avoidance sensor, one that does not rely on vulnerable electronic systems," the overview for the challenge says. "For that reason, JPL is turning to the global community of innovators and inventors to design this novel avoidance sensor for AREE. JPL is interested in all approaches, regardless of technical maturity."

The challenge opened to submissions on February 18 and the deadline is May 29 at 5 p.m. ET.

Prizes include up to $15,000 for first place, up to $10,000 for second place and up to $5000 for third place. Competitors may also be considered for several non-monetary awards.

For more information on the challenge or to enter, click here.