Google Lunar X PRIZE Competitor Using ANSYS Engineering Simulation Software in Developing Robot to Explore Moon’s Surface
SOUTHPOINTE, Pa. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — November 9, 2009 — ANSYS, Inc. (NASDAQ: ANSS), a global innovator of simulation software and technologies designed to optimize product development processes, today announced that it has become an official sponsor of Astrobotic Technology Inc.’s Tranquility Trek™ mission, which involves developing a rocket-launched robot as part of the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition. As sponsor, ANSYS is providing its multiphysics engineering simulation software in the development of the robot, lander and payload adapter as the company races to become the first privately funded team to reach the Moon. Through the use of tools from ANSYS, Astrobotic Technology is simulating the effectiveness of machinery and materials performance under extreme fluctuations in lunar conditions — all to be conducted prior to sending the robot to the Moon. The project will pave the way for human exploration and eventual tapping of lunar resources for export to Earth.
The Google Lunar X PRIZE is a $30 million competition to encourage privately funded teams to send a robot to the Moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth. U.S.-based Astrobotic is one of 21 teams from around the world participating in the competition. The company, which has identified a 2011 launch date, already is field-testing prototype Moon robots.
“This is a race after all, so we are leveraging engineering simulation software from ANSYS to keep moving at warp speed,” said David Gump, president of Astrobotic Technology Inc. “We are applying the software to find the lowest-cost, lightest-weight designs for our robots and the deep-space transfer stages that will deliver them from Earth’s orbit to the Moon. ANSYS® technology enables us to examine alternative structures and materials to rapidly find the most effective combinations via simulation, before we build physical prototypes.” For example, Astrobotic Technology will use tools from ANSYS to design the composite structures of the landing stage and then model the impact forces it will experience when it touches down on the Moon.
Surviving the Moon’s environment, which exhibits drastic temperature changes, is proving to be a complex challenge. “The Moon is a harsh world to explore. At noon, for instance, our robots will be baked at 244 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the latest readings from NASA. Our third prototype, created by our partners at Carnegie Mellon University utilizing ANSYS technology, demonstrates how to beat the heat with an innovative asymmetrical shape. The software’s thermal analysis capabilities help us determine the optimal design to withstand the Moon’s elements,” Gump explained.
“Astrobotic Technology’s choice of ANSYS software for Simulation Driven Product Development™ will serve it well during its race to the Moon,” said Jim Cashman, president and CEO, ANSYS, Inc. “This may turn out to be the ultimate in virtual research, since it is impossible to physically reproduce the lunar environment then run prototype experiments in out-of-this-world conditions. The entire mission holds the opportunity for the world to gain insight into new discoveries yet to be found.”
Once the robot reaches the Moon, Astrobotic Technology intends for it to visit Apollo 11’s landing site along the equator and to study the lunar environment’s effects on materials that mission left behind.
About the Google Lunar X PRIZE
The Google Lunar X PRIZE is a $30 million competition for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the Moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth. Teams must secure no more than 10 percent of their funding from governments and deliver their video in HD quality. The first team to land on the Moon and complete the mission objectives will be awarded $20 million, with $5 million for second place and $5 million for bonus events. The final deadline for winning the prize is December 31, 2014.
About Astrobotic Technology Inc.
Astrobotic Technology Inc. was founded by Red Whittaker, a world leader in advanced field robotics. The company is a spin-off from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, where initial prototypes of its Moon robot have been designed and tested. The first mission of Astrobotic Technology, the Tranquility Trek™, will launch to the Moon on a commercially available booster, win the Google Lunar X PRIZE, and show the world the Apollo 11 site in high-definition video. Tranquility Trek will demonstrate the first precision robotic landing on another world, essential to Astrobotic’s long-term business of supporting the science objectives and lunar outposts of NASA and other space agencies. For more information, visit www.astrobotictechnology.com.
About ANSYS, Inc.
ANSYS, Inc., founded in 1970, develops and globally markets engineering
simulation software and technologies widely used by engineers and
designers across a broad spectrum of industries. The Company focuses on
the development of open and flexible solutions that enable users to
analyze designs directly on the desktop, providing a common platform for
fast, efficient and cost-conscious product development, from design
concept to final-stage testing and validation. The Company and its
global network of channel partners provide sales, support and training
for customers. Headquartered in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., with
more than 60 strategic sales locations throughout the world, ANSYS, Inc.
and its subsidiaries employ over 1,600 people and distribute ANSYS
products through a network of channel partners in over 40 countries.
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