Google Lunar XPrize awards $1 million to Astrobotic


February 2, 2015

The Google Lunar XPrize has awarded a $1 million Milestone Prize to Astrobotic Technology for achieving technical goals set for its lunar landing system. It is the third Milestone Prize awarded to the Astrobotic and Carnegie Mellon University team that is preparing to land its robot on the moon.

Nine Milestone Prizes in three categories have been awarded to five teams that are competing for the Google Lunar XPrize, which will award $20 million or more to teams that can complete a robotic mission to the moon by the end of 2016.

Astrobotic/CMU is the only team to achieve Milestone prizes in each category. Last month, Carnegie Mellon was awarded $500,000 for meeting technical goals for its Andy rover and Astrobotic received $250,000 for its imaging technology. The Milestone prize money will be deducted from any eventual winnings the team might receive for the Google Lunar XPrize itself.

The other Milestone winners announced Jan. 26 were Moon Express, another U.S. team that won prizes in the lander and imaging categories; Part-Time Scientists, a German team that won in the imaging and mobility (rover) categories; Hakuto, a Japanese team that won in the mobility category; and Team Indus from India, which won in the landing category.

Participation in the Milestone Prizes was voluntary and did involve all 18 teams currently competing for the Google Lunar XPrize.

ECE alum, Kevin Peterson, is the Chief Technology Officer of Astrobotic. Peterson has fielded a dozen autonomous systems, including autonomous UXO survey, high-speed desert and urban driving, construction, and naval systems. Peterson was the technical lead for Carnegie Mellon's DARPA Grand Challenge teams. At Astrobotic, Peterson leads 5 active NASA contracts for Autolanding for Robotic Precursor Missions; Reliable, Hardened GPS-Denied Navigation and Landing; Resource Aware Planning for Shadowed and Uncertain Domains; Long-Range Prediction of Non-Geometric Terrain Hazards for Reliable Planetary Rover Traverse; and Non-Geometric Terrain Sensing for Autonomous Excavation and Site Work.

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