FBRoverDSC_8404-2 The Fugitive Beach recreation facility, a few miles down Highway 72 from Rolla, often serves as Rolla’s analog for Mars. And that’s pretty convenient for some of S&T’s student design teams.

FB is an old quarry that’s been converted to a family-friendly place where people can swim, run obstacle courses, camp, hold family gatherings or just relax on a cool spring evening..

The place is a work in progress, meaning there are a few rough patches ideal for testing off-road robots. S&T’s Robot Competition FBVRobotDSC_8341
Team took their other-worldly excavator for a beach run, but struggled in the sand. That means a redesign of the power systems and more controllable wheels.
Just yards away from the robot team’s efforts the Mars Rover Design Team took their 3rd-year Rover to practice out of line-of-sight radio controlled functions. Horizon, the team’s 2015 design, sometimes moves like a hyper-caffeinated spider, so it can take a steady hand to keep it in line.

They sent it up the trail but suddenly lost the radio link, leaving the clattering machine free to go wherever FBChaseSUN_3420the terrain would take it. “HIT THE E-STOP!!! HIT THE E STOP!!!” echoed the frantic screams as Miners took off in hot and largely unsuccessful pursuit. Had it not been for the boulder it slammed into Horizon might have plunged down a cliff face to disaster.

Damage? Minimal. Aside from a broken wheel band everything is fine.

We’re laughing about it now, but it wasn’t funny then. Especially when an angry black Great Dane suddenly charged into the fray.

But that’s a story for another day…