This week, NASA opened registration for a Space Robotics Challenge. People are invited to develop "humanoid robots" to help astronauts on the journey to Mars. (Did someone say R2-D2?) The winning design will win $1 million in prize money.
While the robotics industry has been developing rapidly, many of these Earth-based systems will not work in outer space, where temperatures are more extreme and surfaces might be different than those of our planet. NASA hopes that robots will be able to go ahead of astronauts to help set up habitats, life support systems, and perhaps even begin doing scientific research.
"NASA and our partners are confident the public will rise to this challenge, and are excited to see what innovative technologies will be produced," Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA's Centennial Challenges, said in a statement.
The qualifying round will run from mod-September to mid-November, with finalists being announced in December. The finals will be held next June.
[Image: NASA] ES