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Be a test driver for a real moon rover. The future of private space exploration will be in your hands!

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!


- - -

*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? 


Intro

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!

Lunar rover prototype, Asimov R3A
Lunar rover prototype, Asimov R3A

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!

We tested our prototypes in several extreme places, like in this 1500-meter-high ice cave - (click for video!)
We tested our prototypes in several extreme places, like in this 1500-meter-high ice cave - (click for video!)

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!

Our team

Meet the Part-Time Scientists! (8 of ~100)
Meet the Part-Time Scientists! (8 of ~100)

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.

Challenges with lunar regolith, Apollo 15 LRV (image courtesy of NASA)
Challenges with lunar regolith, Apollo 15 LRV (image courtesy of NASA)

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.

Asimov R3A exploring a cave in the Austrian Alps
Asimov R3A exploring a cave in the Austrian Alps

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 use a location like this old industrial hall to setup our lunar landscape.
We will use a location like this old industrial hall to setup our lunar landscape.

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 :-)

Rewards

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

Become part of the experiment. Get an RRE Voucher!
Become part of the experiment. Get an RRE Voucher!

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!

"Hell Yeah, it's Rocket Science!" Stickers
"Hell Yeah, it's Rocket Science!" Stickers

 Our Rocket style ball pens!

Rocket-style ball pen, available in the colors above
Rocket-style ball pen, available in the colors above

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.

Our friends the RoboSpartans in "Hell Yeah, it's Rocket Science!" Shirts
Our friends the RoboSpartans in "Hell Yeah, it's Rocket Science!" Shirts

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.

Asimov R2 wheel. The final R2.5 wheel will be a bit larger (d >10cm)
Asimov R2 wheel. The final R2.5 wheel will be a bit larger (d >10cm)

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!

Asimov R0 kit, paintings included! - (click for video)
Asimov R0 kit, paintings included! - (click for video)
Asimov R0, delivered as a kit for self assembly
Asimov R0, delivered as a kit for self assembly
Asimov R0, Remote App for tablets and smartphones
Asimov R0, Remote App for tablets and smartphones
There is no better way to get excited about cool robotics!
There is no better way to get excited about cool robotics!

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.

Asimov R3A (not 2.5!) which will look much like the R2.5 series being built for the Remote Rover Experiment - (click for video!)
Asimov R3A (not 2.5!) which will look much like the R2.5 series being built for the Remote Rover Experiment - (click for video!)

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
$15 worldwide

Contact us for special shipping options.
Note: if shipping isn't mentioned it's free!

The Plan

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!

FAQ

  • The wheel is and will be made of coated, maybe even hardened, Aluminium. The one in the image is coated, hardened and very sharp!

    Last updated:
  • 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!

    Last updated:
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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    35 backers

    Get exclusive updates from our moon-bound team including live coverage of building our testing grounds and a media-rich, bi-weekly newsletter!

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    100 backers All gone!

    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL! Same as $15 pledge, but limited to 100 early backers.

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    63 backers

    Get one RRE Voucher; it is your key to your very own lunar mission. Choose an available time slot, and after your very own mission countdown you will take control of our latest prototype in our realistic testing ground. Faced with real mission challenges, you will help us improve our mission hardware. Afterwards, you will receive a PTS test pilot certificate and can download a recording of your performance.

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    16 backers

    To get our awesome HellYeah! 4GB USB stick with a media package preloaded in addition to the RRE Voucher. Add $5 for 8GB and $10 for 16GB capacity instead. (Shipping: U.S. free, for Germany & Austria $5, Europe $10, all others $15)

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    55 backers

    Get one RRE Voucher and an awesome surprise pack of Part-Time Scientists- and "Hell Yeah, it's Rocket Science!"-labeled goodies like rocket pens, cool stickers, coffee mugs(!) and a rocket-style notepad. (Shipping: free for the U.S., $5 for Germany & Austria, $15 worldwide)

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    26 backers

    Get one RRE Voucher for your lunar mission AND one of our “Hell Yeah, it's Rocket Science!” T-shirts. Choose any size from small to 3XL. (Shipping: free for the U.S., $5 for Germany & Austria, $15 worldwide)

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    3 backers

    *PREMIERE* Get one RRE Voucher and our awesome, new, "Because we Always look up at night" T-Shirt. These shirts are available here for the first time, except for some samples that went out to the team. Choose any size from S to 3XL. (Shipping: U.S. free, for Germany & Austria $5, Europe $10, all others $15)

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    56 backers

    *Kickstarter special!* Get one RRE Voucher, plus a special edition, black(!) “Hell Yeah, it's Rocket Science!” T-shirt. These shirts are exclusive prints for this Kickstarter campaign and, because we love you so much, we will also give you the fan package with pens, cool stickers, a coffee (or tea) mug, and the rocket-style notepad! (Shipping: free for the U.S., $5 for Germany & Austria, $15 worldwide)

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    1 backer

    *Kickstarter special!* Get one full-sized wheel of our Asimov 2.5 Rover prototype laser-engraved with a quote of your choosing. Of course, you will also receive one RRE Voucher, plus media footage from the production of the wheels!

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    3 backers

    *Kickstarter special!* Get the full-sized wheel of our Asimov 2.5 Rover prototype as above plus the black special edition of our "Hell Yeah, it's Rocket Science!" Shirt!

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    7 backers

    *Maker special!* Help us take testing our hardware to the next level and get yourself a fully 360°-steerable Asimov R0 Rover Kit! The Kit contains all necessary parts of the rover, and the Android Remote App with source code along with the Android SDK! Experience it all, from 3-second-delay driving to a 3D Navigator vector-based remote control. Of course, you will also receive an RRE Voucher.

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    0 backers

    *Maker special for competitors* Two times the rover two times the fun! Get the R0 kit as described above twice - you'll be able to race your friends or you'll have a backup once you've twiddled too much with one of them. Btw. you'll also get the slots on your RRE Voucher doubled - so you'll be able to double the time you're helping us as well.

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    2 backers Limited (3 left of 5)

    Get one of our Asimov 2.5 Rovers, especially built for the Remote Rover Experiment. The rover comes fully assembled and can be remote-controlled using almost any smartphone or tablet over Bluetooth. Instead of an RRE Voucher, you will get to drive YOUR very own rover in our realistic testing ground before we ship it to you!

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    Be the 1st civilians to drive off-planet, on the Moon*. Help us fund this experiment and we will let you drive not just on our testing ground but also the real rover on the moon!

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    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    This is a special option for any sports fan club or company who wants to promote their team and support our experiment. Buy PTS one Asimov 2.5 series rover prototype, and we will custom color and label it to your choosing! You will get the chance to drive the rover in the testing ground, and we will send you media footage from the production, assembly and testing of the rover!

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Funding period

- (28 days)