Caterpillar to sponsor NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge

For more than 90 years, Caterpillar has been focused on helping our customers build the world’s infrastructure. As we look to the future, we’re planning infrastructure even beyond our planet’s needs.

The Foster + Partners | Branch Technology team from Chattanooga, Tennessee, with their 3D-printed dome structure after it was strength tested Aug. 26, 2017, at Caterpillar Inc.’s Edwards Demonstration and Learning Center in Peoria, Illinois. The team won first place and $250,000 at Phase 2: Level 3 of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. Credits: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

That’s why we’re proud to sponsor NASA’s Centennial Challenge — the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge — along with Bechtel, Brick and Mortar Ventures and Bradley University. The competition is created to incentivize the world’s most talented innovators to come up with new ways to design and print a habitat that could be used for deep space exploration, including NASA’s journey to Mars, as well as have applications on Earth today.

“The future of construction is changing,” said Caterpillar Automation & Autonomy Program Manager Eric Reiners. “Participating in the Centennial Challenge gives us the opportunity to look at these types of potential expanded offerings and work to develop disruptive multi-use technologies that can help solve our customers’ current and future challenges.”

Team SEArch+/Apis Cor won first place in the Phase 3: Level 4 software modeling stage of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. The unique shape of their habitat allows for continuous reinforcement of the structure. Light enters through trough-shaped ports on the sides and top. Credits: Team SEArch+/Apis Cor. Ph. Courtesy of NASA

Caterpillar has a long-standing relationship with NASA, dating back to when Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon. It was Caterpillar that supplied the gensets to power the antennas and allow those famous words to be heard all over the world. Most recently, Caterpillar has been the main sponsor for NASA’s collegiate Robotic Mining Competition for the past ten years. That collaboration effort led to us getting involved in this Centennial Challenge.

The relationship Caterpillar and NASA share has fostered technological advancements in robotics, semi-autonomous and remote-control operator stations for equipment. These advancements increase safety for operators and productivity of the machines. Earlier work with NASA can now been seen in commercial products like Cat® Command for Dozing and the remote-control demonstration on display at this competition.


Team Zopherus won second place in the Phase 3: Level 4 software modeling stage of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. The team’s design would be constructed by an autonomous roving printer that prints a structure and then moves on to the next site.
Credits: Zopherus. ph courtesy of NASA

“Knowing the improvement in technology we’ve seen in our work with NASA, we’re excited for what this competition could mean for our customers,” said Excavation Machine Design Department Director Justin Speichinger. “3D Printing is a disruptive, transformational technology that can significantly affect the productivity capability of the construction industry.”

Caterpillar has hosted each phase of the competition at the Caterpillar Edwards Demonstration Center in Edwards, Illinois. For more than 90 years, Caterpillar has been building the world’s infrastructure, and we plan to develop the world’s infrastructure for the next 90 years—whether that’s in a great city, a developing village or even beyond our planet. _

The final phase of the Challenge will test teams’ ability to advance technology to autonomously construct a habitat and will culminate in a head-to-head habitat print. Caterpillar’s Learning & Demonstration Center in Edwards, Illinois is proud to host the competition.

Want to see the action live from the 3D Habitat Challenge? Follow NASA 360 on Facebook, and watch for live videos on Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4.

Source: Caterpillar press office'
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