Be a test driver for a real moon rover. The future of private space exploration will be in your hands! Read more
This project's funding goal was not reached on August 23, 2012.
About this project
Watch out test drivers!
Thanks to everyone who supported us here on Kickstarter and vouched to become a moon rover test driver. As things have not worked out the way we hoped, we will have to think of another way to invoke you in our testing.
On next Thursday (30. Aug) we will post an update for all of you who want to get an R0 rover or want to help us test drive our rover prototypes on www.roverexperiment.com make sure to check it out!
To keep up with our mission to the moon, 'like' our "Hell Yeah, it's Rocket Science!" Page on Facebook, follow us on Google+ and follow @PTScientists on Twitter.
Check www.roverexperiment.com next Thursday (30. Aug) to be a part of our mission!
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*Update* we extended your time on the testing ground to a minimum of 20 minutes!
For $15 you get to drive and train a real lunar rover prototype over the internet!
FAQ - read first -
Q: How long can i drive the rover?
A: The minimum testing time is 20 minutes, depending on how you perform it can even be longer!
Q: Don't you need money to build and launch everything?
A: Yes and no, we're not crowd funding this. We just use this Kickstarter to find as many as possible test drivers!
Q: What do you need?
A: We need as many test drivers as possible to train the AI of our rovers and get all subsystems ready for space. We're about to launch the most advanced rover into space yet thus we need to give it the best training possible!
Q: Is NASA 'Ok' with you regarding visiting Apollo 17?
A: Totally Yes, we even had the pleasure to work on the so called 'Lunar Heritage Guidelines' from day 1. Also understand that we have the highest respect for what NASA did in the past and even today on Mars! (Also to add, former NASA Apollo veterans make up an important part of our team)
For $15 you will get a Voucher which is your ticket to pilot a real lunar rover prototype over the internet right from your desktop! With the funds we will build a realistic testing ground for our prototypes to be send to the moon, modeled after Apollo 17. How awesome is this?
We are the Part-Time Scientists, an international team of scientists and engineers shooting for the moon, and we need your help to pull it off!
The Remote Rover Experiment
Testing all the hardware needed for our mission to the moon is not easy. Actually, it is the most time-consuming thing in the entire mission. The moon provides a rough environment with high temperature shifts of over 200° Celsius, fine-grained lunar soil, and high levels of background radiation.
We realized early on that we couldn’t test all of our systems—from our mission control self-developed server, operators’ UIs, and communication protocols down to our own lunar rover operating system. This is why we have set out to recruit the best, most challenging, and supportive test pilots: You!
Get in the driver seat!
Once our new testing ground is in place, YOU will be the first to try it out. Our way of saying "Thank You!" is to provide you with the unique experience of your very own moon landing. It's easy to get a voucher. Then, select your time and the launch clock starts ticking.
Commander or Explorer?
At the beginning of the experiment, every participant will choose to be either a Commander or an Explorer.
As a Commander you will have lots of fun controlling the moon rover prototype. Similar to an arcade game you will be able to collect points and beat other participants on the scoreboard. The challenges are designed uniquely for everyone in order to give us as much interesting data as possible. Take a capture-the-flag mode as an example, where you would have to find and get flags in the test environment, as you know it from some computer games – but this time using a real vehicle!
You are more interested in true science and realism? Then you should decide to be an Explorer. A simulated signal latency of 2.7 seconds and limited sight provide an authentic feeling of the challenges we will face on the moon ourselves. Of course, we don't want to end up in a moon crater upside down while trying to fulfill our mission objectives!
The challenges we face
The three key challenges we face in building robots for extreme environments are efficiency, hardware deterioration, and limited telemetry.
Efficient driving is the key to optimizing our rovers for the severely limited energy budget on the moon. In turn, this presents us with limited mobility and short on-surface operation times of one lunar day, which is about 14.5 days here on Earth. Being efficient is not a matter of good will; it's about the success and failure of the entire mission. We want to measure how long our batteries can last, what distance we can travel, and how long it will take us to do so based on your test performance.
Deterioration of critical parts is accelerated due to the harsh environment and the counteractive properties of the lunar regolith. This requires that we need to find any potential weak spot in our hardware before it starts failing on the surface of the moon. Stress tests like these especially target the mechanical side of our system; however, they apply to the electronics and the entire power subsystem along with the batteries as well.
Telerobotics is the key to our mission as it connects us and the operator with our rover on the moon. The challenge here is to derive reliable communication protocols and subsystems that can handle all sorts of issues, such as packet loss or erroneous signals, well enough to survive and let us explore. This challenge is also about the operator itself, as the rover only provides you with limited sensor input. Figuring out if there is a shadow or roadblock in front of you is the difference between success or demise of our rover. Connecting our operators with the rover involves many software stacks starting with the rover operating system, self-developed communication protocol, central mission control server systems, and the operator controls themselves.
What the funds are for
Building a 200-square meter testing ground with the right lighting, fully packed with sensors and electronics, and several rovers with hot standbys is neither easy nor inexpensive, although we try to keep costs as low as possible. For example, we are designing the Asimov R2.5 series rover, a special version of our latest R3 series, which replaces certain spacebound parts with more earthbound alternatives to help us cut down costs while staying compatible to our production R3 series.
We will begin ordering all the needed equipment, manufacturing the parts, finalizing the site selection as soon as the funding goal is reached. Transparency is very important to us; thus, we will make sure you stay as close to us as possible, receiving real-time updates on everything we do in preparation towards the experiment. All excess money that is raised will be used toward enhancing the experiment and supporting our team on its way to the moon. So, if you want to buy our team members a German Bratwurst or wheat beer, feel free to add a few dollars on top :-)
We narrowed down the testing site selection to two choices. The rovers are already being redesigned. Once the funding goal is reached, we will send out the Vouchers, and you can use these to register yourself as a participant in the experiment at a time of your choosing.
RRE Voucher + our awesome stuff!
For $10 (plus shipping), we will send you our awesome stuff like pens, stickers, and either a coffee mug or a rocket-style hardcover notepad!
Our Rocket style ball pens!
RRE Voucher + our awesome shirt!
This is our all-famous, high quality shirt designed with love! Get it now and be the coolest rocket science geek in town! Available in any size from small to 3XL. We will post a picture of the Kickstarter special edition shirt in black as soon as we get our hands on a sample.
RRE Voucher + Asimov R2.5 rover wheel!
*Kickstarter special!* get an RRE Voucher, plusone full-sized wheel of our Asimov R2.5 Rover prototype that will be used in the Remote Rover Experiment. It's rock-solid, sharp-edged and the perfect paperweight for your inbox.
RRE Voucher + one Asimov R0 rover kit!
*Maker special!* Help us take testing our mission hardware to the next level. Get one Asimov R0 rover fully equipped to be the most awesome tablet, smartphone or 3D navigator-remote controlled rover. The kit contains all the parts and tech you need along with an assembly video that we will publish on youtube soon. You get open source access to all protocols to control the rover plus our educational android remote app for both tablets and smartphones!
RRE Voucher + one Asimov 2.5 Rover!
If the Asimov R0 lunar rover prototype is just too mainstream for you, and you really want to support our project, get a real Remote Rover Experiment Asimov 2.5 Rover. The Rover is 360° steerable and has the same vector-based controls and protocols as all our Rover prototype series.
Shipping costs (for all rewards with costs given)
We worked as best as possible to provide you lower shipping costs. We hope that you will like the following adjustments.
Shipping is free for the U.S.
$5 for Germany & Austria
$10 for Europe
Contact us for special shipping options.
Note: if shipping isn't mentioned it's free!
Getting everything setup as early as possible is only limited by our team financial resources. Many needed parts for our prototypes come from all over the world, with the major sources being USA, China, and Germany. The assembly of the electronics will take place in Hamburg, and the mechanical parts in Munich and Salzburg (Austria). All rewards will be shipped as early as possible, after we have taken care of all parts needed for the experiment.
We hope you will join us on this exciting project. Thank you for your support!
Kudos for the images to our photographer Alex Adler and for the video to Karl and the Ghostbastards!
The wheel is and will be made of coated, maybe even hardened, Aluminium. The one in the image is coated, hardened and very sharp!
We're currently looking at two good sites, an old industrial complex near Berlin and an industrial area in Austria. Once we've settled we will post an update right away!
- (28 days)