Tuesday, January 6, 2009

One rover, two rovers... many rovers?

If you have followed Team FREDNET during the last few months you have probably noticed that our team members are working on two very different rover designs. Why do we develop several designs instead of focusing our efforts on the design?

The thing is that we are trying to build up a large and engaged community and there are many ways to do it. We have chosen a way where instead of expecting everybody to support one official design line we invite and encourage people to work on their own ideas and demonstrate that it provides the best solution for a given problem. Using our public forum and wiki they can collaborate with other members of the team and share common components across the competing designs. They may even find other members who support their idea and would like to contribute to it. They can organize themselves in informal working groups without the need for any official approval from the team management.

While this may not be the most efficient way towards winning the Google Lunar X PRIZE, we are sure that this is one of the best ways to engage interested individuals and groups and give them a fair chance to prove what they are capable of. Basically, it is the same concept as the whole Google Lunar X PRIZE but applied at a smaller scale.

Currently we have this parallel design study/competition concept going on in the rover area, but we expect similar parallel design studies applied to other subsystems as well. If the organizational concept works out, we can at the end choose the most suitable configuration. It also provides additional security against making the wrong design decisions early in the process and suffering from it for the rest of the program.

The two rover concepts currently being worked on at Team FREDNET: WRV1 (left) and Jaluro (right).

Of course, turning an idea into a design and implementation that can prove suitable for a lunar mission requires hard work and stamina. There is a very long way from a conceptual design to a working prototype. Fortunately, we have many active members who has the right stuff to take their ideas all the way to the end.

You can read more about our rover design competition Moon amateurs invite rover designs from the public.

What are your thoughts about this? Will it work or will it leave us in a hopeless situation? We'd love to hear your comments.

No comments: