SJSU Robotics team compete in 2015 Robo-Ops Competition

In October of 2014, the SJSU Robotics team was selected as one of eight teams in the nation to compete in the 2015 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concept-Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Robo-Ops Competition. Sponsored by the National Institute of Aeronautics (NIA) and NASA, this competition invites students from all over the country to build small-scale rovers to be tested on a field resembling Mars terrains.

The Labrador 1 roams the simulated rocky terrains of Mars at the Johnson Space Center. Photo: Bill Stafford, NASA

Each team received a stipend of $10,000 to develop their rover, and the competition challenged students to build a robotic rover able to handle the simulated rough terrains at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.  The participating rovers, controlled by the team at “mission control”—the home campus, had an hour to find and collect as many rock specimens as possible in the field.

The San Jose State rover, Labrador 1, was built to be semi-autonomous, with the capability to send live video feed and other sensor data back to mission control, located at San Jose State University.

In June, the team transported the rover to the Johnson Space Center along with three team members, Matthew Boyd, Colin Chen, and Rocely Mati in order to set up the rover for the final component of the competition.

Rocely Mati and Colin Chen prepping the Labrador 1 for the competition.
Rocely Mati and Colin Chen prepping the Labrador 1 for the competition.

Though only three members of the team went to Houston, every single member was vital throughout this competition.

According to Khalil Estell, President of the SJSU Robotics Club, every person of the team had a very important role because their field of study was different.

“Each member contributed something to the rover and the competition that another couldn’t. Most team members have also never had the chance to apply the knowledge they learned in class, making this an awesome opportunity,” Estell said.

SJSU did not place in the competition, but each member took away a great deal of experience and valuable knowledge.  The competition taught the team members how to be self-driven, effective engineers while maintaining a sense of creativity. The College of Engineering is proud of the team’s achievements, and  is excited to see what the team will accomplish in the future.

For more information of the competition, please visit: