Cerberus is our Sample Return Robot Challenge (SRRC) robot. The SRRC, administered by Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is a NASA Centennial Challenge to build a robot to search a large outdoor area for ten objects, known as samples. The samples are scattered around the landscape randomly, and the robot has two hours to find and return them to its starting platform. Use of a GPS receiver or magnetic compass is prohibited. Any samples that contact each other during transport are considered to be contaminated, and do not count toward the robot's score. $1.5 million in prize money, provided by NASA, is available to be divided among the three top-scoring teams. The 2012 SRRC, including an interview with Wunderkammer Laboratory's chief inventor Jim Rothrock, is featured in the Robots, Rocks, & Rovers episode of NASA 360.

Capabilities of Cerberus include:

  • Sample identification using machine vision
  • Depth perception based on machine vision
  • All-wheel drive and all-wheel steering
  • Object manipulation with a six degree of freedom arm
  • Encoder-based odometry, visual odometry, and inertial navigation

Cerberus on the SRRC Course

Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls