Would You Like to Drive a Lunar Rover?
How many of you out there have been paying attention to Curiosity even after it failed to spatter into Mars? I’ve been checking out what the rover is up to every couple of days or so, looking at pictures and reading about future plans. Has all of that back seat driving given you a desire to take the wheel of a rover for yourself? Here’s your chance. Sort of.
The Google Lunar X Prize is offering $30 million to the first privately funded company to safely deliver a rover to the moon. Google is not, of course, helping with the funding, which has led one team to launch a Kickstarter page to get its rover off the ground. Part-Time Scientists (PTS) is offering people a chance to contribute a mere $15 to the cause for the chance to test pilot (here on Earth) its lunar rover for 20 minutes.
Not only will the money help PTS out, but having a large number of semi-capable test pilots also puts the rover through its pacing for stress testing. To ensure people don’t accidentally roam off the reservation (and for scientific purposes) PTS is constructing a 200-square-meter testing ground in Germany with lighting and surface features that simulate the moon’s surface.
If 20 minutes isn’t enough for you, for a $500 contribution, the team (who has the fantastic motto, “Hell Yeah It’s Rocket Science!”) will send you a rover kit so you can construct your own lunar robot.
Human drivers will eventually be replaced by sophisticated programming that will allow the rover to act autonomously. Until then, humans can still have a turn at the controls.
Below you’ll find a video that details the history of PTS’ rover.