June 1, 2022
Caterpillar technology leaders were on site last week at the NASA Lunabotics 2022 competition at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. With 50 colleges and universities participating in the lunar robotics challenge, this was an ideal opportunity to inspire and support the next generation of engineers who are working in autonomous and semi-autonomous technology solutions. Caterpillar also showcased Cat® Command technology on site, and participants had the chance to use the technology to remotely drive Cat machines in North Carolina.
This year’s NASA Lunabotics competition features two groups of challengers and their faculty advisors. Caterpillar hosted a welcome dinner for each group. Speakers included Karl Weiss, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Integrated Components and Solutions; Eric Reiners, Program Manager for Autonomy; and Caleb Leslie, Autonomy Senior Engineer, who is an alumnus of the Lunabotics Competition. Caleb participated in the competition as a student at the University of Alabama. He then became a Caterpillar engineering intern and participant in the Engineering Rotational Development Program, joining Caterpillar as an Automation Engineer in 2017.
“The experience of being part of the Lunabotics competition mirrors the skills of an engineer, as I’ve experienced through my roles at Caterpillar,” shared Leslie. “I had technical experience in systems design and integration, plus machine testing. Being a part of the Alabama Astrobotics team also taught me how to use my skills to help the team make progress towards a shared goal. If only every engineer had this amazing hands-on opportunity.”
Caterpillar is a proud sponsor of the NASA Lunabotics competition, providing financial support and expert judges since the inaugural event in 2010. During the event, students in collegiate robotics programs from around the country are tasked with designing and building a robot with the ability to excavate on the surface on the moon, with a growing focus on the use of autonomy.
“It is great to be back together for the 2022 Lunabotics competition. I’ve been part of this event since 2010, and always look forward to the new ideas the students integrate into their robots,” said Reiners. “We appreciate the longevity of the relationship with NASA that affords us the opportunity to work with the next generation of technology innovators.”
Throughout the week, Caterpillar experts served as judges for the NASA Lunabotics competition, observing the remote control and autonomous robots in action and providing feedback to teams. Special thanks to Eric Reiners, Caleb Leslie, Josh Struble, Jacob Huesman, Martha Batdorff, Nick Matranga, and JD Armes for their engagement in the program. Thank you also to the team of Alan Pumklin, Matt Fike and Michael Valerio for putting Caterpillar technology into the hands of students via the Cat Command station.
Caterpillar is proud to collaborate with NASA to develop the next generation of world builders.
Karl Weiss with participants
Cat Command Trailer
Participant robot in the competition area:
Caterpillar Team at Kennedy Space Center