Collaborator / Mentor for NASA Space Robotics Challenge

I am exploring competing in the NASA Space Robotics Challenge (SRC) having competed previously in the Sample Return Robotics Centennial Challenge. The SRC is a software only project using a simulation of the R5 / Valkyrie on Mars to complete tasks. There is a qualifying run of 2 tasks that occurs on November 15th. The main competition is June 2017. The rules are published but it is unclear how much support is provided for working with the R5, e.g. do I have to make it walk or is that basic software provided.

I have been climbing the ROS learning curve this past year but know that there is a lot more to learn, especially with the R5. I’m retired and can devote a lot of time to this.

I’m looking first for a mentor who could just help me over the rough spots. Maybe someone who’s worked with the R5 but doesn’t have time for this project. Alternatively, a collaborator or a team who’d be interested in working on this.


Hi there,
In my humble opinion the SRC is much more advanced than the Sample Return Robotics Centennial Challenge. Humanoid robots have a wide range of extra limitations you need to cope with as well as the software stack for them are generally more complex.

I had a bit of experience with the Valkyrie unit in Edinburgh earlier this year and from that experience I have to say it won’t be easy to get things running on the simulator for a beginner. The lowest level you have access to is the ros_control interface where controllers can be managed. I am not sure how the SRC will work out regarding walking; the real Valkyrie platforms come with a walking controller supplied by one of NASA’s contractors.

I can help you get started if you wish but I doubt I’ll have time to contribute too much (working on my PhD).

Thanks for responding. I’ll keep you in mind for questions. I have a contact from the SRR who is currently working with the Valkyrie and giving me some pointers.

A lot is going to depend on the software stack provided for running the Valkyrie. Good luck with your PhD.

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Hello Sir, this might be out of topic…but are you the Hackaday author? Great to see you here! :slight_smile:

Yes, I write for Hackaday. Not right now with the competition taking all my time.

Dear rmerriam,
we just saw your message at

At The Construct, we love people with such good spirit and initiative as you, and we want to support them.

We know that it is a little late, but we’ll be happy to give you a hand with your simulation for the SRC. Our company is specialised in web robot simulations using gzweb and gazebo, so we may be able to help you on working in such environment, even provide you the simulation cloud for free.

Let us know if we can help you.