NewswireToday - /newswire/ -
Eldora, IA, United States, 2008/06/02 - A combination of recent events forced ACME Robotics to withdraw their intent to enter the Regolith Excavation Challenge to be held in August, 2008.
“Our decision was based on two key factors” states Don C. Dhabolt, Team Leader for ACME Robotics, “weather and rules.” “First, a large amount of snow through the winter and an unseasonable amount of rain this spring caused flooding all over town” says Don, referring to the April 25th flood of the ACME Robotics basement workshop. Everything was quickly cleaned up but additional rain caused a second, and then a third flood before the problem could be properly addressed. Don says it was the first time in over ten years flooding had occurred. “I lost some equipment in the first flood, but after the third flood and all the time lost, it forced me to re-evaluate my position with the Regolith Excavation Challenge as a whole,” he said.
The second and most important factor has to do with the Challenge itself, particularly the rules. “I’ve been following the Regolith Challenge since September 2006, almost from the beginning” Don says. “The first challenge was nothing like the CSA/CSEWI or NASA envisioned so they (CSA/CSEWI) made several changes to the rules, changes I don’t agree with. After careful contemplation – I feel the rules have been stacked against the participants. For example, it took over seven months just to get a vague description of the ramp surface material – that type of delay is simply not right. CSA/CSEWI states the competition is intended to act as a simulation that encompasses scenarios in-situ, yet in a true in-situ scenario, many facts would be known well before the first excavation attempt – the CSA/CSEWI has failed to reveal these facts” states Don. He says many other factors influenced the decision, including several portions of the rules (found on the CSEWI website). “I think CSA/CSEWI is only looking out for CSA/CSEWI, not the challenge participants” states Don.
“I would like to take this opportunity and express my wish of success to all the participating teams,” Don says. “I’ve made some good friends along the way and I’ll be cheering extra for one of them! I also hope the event is successful for CSA/CSEWI – it’s too bad the challenge has become skewed away from the participants.”
ACME Robotics originally announced their intent to enter the 2008 Regolith Excavation Challenge on December 11, 2007. The Competition is one of NASA’s Centennial challenges with a total purse of $750,000. Simply stated, $500,000 will be awarded to the team robot that can dig the most (simulated) moon dirt – or regolith – and shovel it into a container during a 30 minute time limit.
The California Space Education and Workforce Institute (CSEWI) will administer the 2008 Regolith Excavation Challenge, which is also Co-Hosted by the California Space Authority (CSA).
Don C. Dhabolt is the Team Leader of ACME Robotics, and the Director of Operations for IT RealityString LLC (itrealitystring.com), a small Information Technology Consulting firm located in Eldora, Iowa and La Crosse, Wisconsin.