The Łukasiewicz Research Network reported on the competition in a press release.

 

In July 2021, engineers from the Łukasiewicz Research Network – Industrial Research Institute of Automation and Measurements (Polish abbrev. – PIAP) registered their participation in the Space Resources Challenge. It is a competition organised by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC) to propose and test a robotic system for exploring raw materials on the Moon to enable the future exploitation of extraterrestrial resources.

 

Polish engineers have passed through the selection phase and are among the 13 institutions from Europe and Canada. They, then, went to the Netherlands for a test track for the lunar environment specially prepared by ESA. At a certain time, they had to cross an obstacle course and collect interesting geological structures. Jakub Główka, Filip Jędrzejczyk, Michał Bryła from Łukasiewicz – PIAP and Łukasz Kruszewski from the Institute of Geological Sciences of Polish Academy of Sciences participated in the tests.

 

They fulfilled this task and were among the five finalists according to the Competition Commission’s evaluation. Competitors include teams from ETH Zurich & University of Zurich (Switzerland), Mission Control Space Services (Canada), FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik (Germany), Space Application Services & Universite Du Luxembourg & Dynamic Imaging Analytics & La Palma Research Centre & University de Lorraine & The Open University (Belgium/Luxembourg/Great Britain/France).

 

“We didn’t know what terrain our robot had to cross and what would cause it problems. So, when we arrived at an important point and saw the traces we left on the surface, we felt like real explorers. Now we want to significantly improve our result”, says Jakub Główka from Łukasiewicz – PIAP, head of the department in which the preparations for the competition were carried out, is quoted in the press release.

 

The five winners of this phase will receive funds to upgrade their solution and run a similar test again in September 2022. There will only be one winner: he will have the chance to develop the technology and integrate it into the ESA supply chain for the flight to the Moon.

 

“The finalist is expected to deliver finished components to land at the South Pole of the Moon together with the entire system in 2029 (as part of the European Large Logistic Lander mission). This is one of several lunar missions currently planned alongside the famous Artemis mission dedicated to the construction of a transit and research station at the south pole of the Moon,” we read in the press release 

 

The robot is a 100-kilogram mobile platform for visual exploration of the terrain. For this purpose, a special version of the robot based on the PIAP Patrol platform has been developed. The robot is equipped with special cameras and a sprocket drive system to ensure increased mobility under difficult terrain conditions.