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Florida students design robot to explore Mars

on Monday,November 16,2009 22:11

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In a controversial 2004 speech, former President George W. Bush announced his intention to pursue exploration of Mars. A mere five years later, a group of Jacksonville students may have designed a robot that can make that dream a reality.

As part of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers annual student design competition, a group of mechanical engineering students from the University of North Florida has entered the Ground Integrated Navigation Apparatus, or GINA, in the Mars themed event.

Designed as a means of retrieving and studying rocks on the Martian surface, GINA has already won local and regional design competitions and now has its eyes set on the international design prize.

The competition, which has drawn design teams from as far away as Egypt and Singapore, tasks entrants with navigating an obstacle course wrought with rocks and 4x4''s akin to the rugged terrain the machines could eventually face on Mars.

Judgment at the event will be based on speed and number of rocks collected without tipping over.

This year''s theme reflects the success of the first robot to study the surface of the red planet, the autonomous Phoenix Mars Lander – with the goal being to create a robot capable of being piloted from Earth.
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