The CocoNuts FRC Robotics Team from Coconino High School was challenged by NAU professor and SETI cave biologist/ecologist Jut Wynne to design and prototype a robot to explore caves on Mars. The students presented their solution, CRAWDAD (CocoNuts Robotics All-terrain Walking and Driving Articulating Device) at the 2nd International Planetary Caves Conference at Lowell Observatory on Thursday, October 22nd.
The CocoNuts completed background research, met with experts from the US Geological Survey, and took a trip to the Flagstaff Lava Caves before settling on a hybrid design between a climbing robot and the Curiosity Drive Train. The CocoNuts submitted their scientific abstract to the conference committee and were accepted to present at the conference.
The CocoNuts presented their design and 3D drawings of their concept to the audience 0f professors and students from several universities, including NAU, Carnegie Mellon, and the Colorado School of Mines, as well as engineers from NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The presentation was well received, and the presenters were able to answer the many questions asked during their Q&A, including a question from a JPL engineer who asked, "When do you think it will be ready?"
The CocoNuts coaches and entire Flagstaff STEM community are proud of these young engineers. Congratulations to the presentation team of Drew Stringer, Luke Peterson, and Carson Nablo. Thank you to Christine Sapio and Dave Thompson, CocoNuts Super Coaches, who provided the information and photos for this post.