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The Juxtopia® Group, Inc. is a not for profit research organization that was started in 2000. Its mission is to improve human learning performance with science and technology that adapts to individual learning needs, enhances cognitive performance, and augments human learning capabilities anytime, anywhere, at any-pace, and for anyone. The Juxtopia® Group focuses its mission on underserved and disadvantaged populations to expose and significantly increase their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) proficiency through empirically researched interventions.

The Juxtopia® Urban Robotics Brilliant Application National (JURBAN) challenge is a Juxtopia® Group program. The JURBAN challenge program was inspired after The Juxtopia® Group sponsored the 1st African American undergraduate student team to compete in the DARPA Urban Grand Challenge. It was soon realized that significant applied STEM training is required in order for students to compete at the DARPA Urban Grand Challenge level, and hence the JURBAN Challenge Program was ‘born’. The JURBAN Challenge Program trains underserved and disadvantaged students to build autonomous service robotic systems that have significant impact in their community. A special JURBAN Challenge Program team, made up of professional and student engineers will enter the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge.

The JURBAN challenge team, entered the Google Lunar XPRIZE because we envisioned an opportunity to inspire underserved and disadvantaged populations, worldwide, that innovatively applying STEM skills can be achieved not only to create something ‘cool’ and exciting, but to complete a product with world humanity impact and pride. In the U.S. with an annual 1.2 million high school drop out rate; 21.7% high school graduate rate in urban districts; and a rapidly decreasing pool of STEM talent, the Google Lunar XPRIZE is a motivating message of the importance of education and STEM proficiency where the acquisition of knowledge can transpire into great feats yet to be accomplished.

The JURBAN Challenge Team will respond to this XPRIZE challenge and the need for increasing America’s STEM talent by video documenting the process of building and launching their robotic craft. The team will document milestones including, but not limited to: a non petroleum way of fueling; novel way of launching; innovative way of landing the craft on the moon; and a method for transmitting video. The JURBAN Challenge team is competing to win not only the grand prize, but the attention of next generation youth to innovate with STEM.

The name of the JURBAN Challenge craft, (“JOLHT”) was inspired by the first African American female astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison; the first Hispanic American female astronaut, Dr. Ellen Ocha; the first Native American astronaut, Mr. John Bennett Herrington; and the first African American astronaut, Dr. Major Robert H. Lawrence, Jr.

The JURBAN Challenge team is made up of professional and student engineers that specialize in various skills required for building various subsystems of the robotic craft ranging from the hardware instrumentation, sensor payload, and software systems. The advantage that the JURBAN Challenge team has over its competitors is its training for building a robotic craft following a standard product development process (e.g., six sigma, CMMI, Rational Unified Process, and Agile methodology), which will result in a robust and efficient craft at a lower production cost. Additionally, the team will utilize the power of the Internet and associated tools to design and develop remotely, the proposed craft. Furthermore, students and professional engineers will design, develop, test, assemble, launch, and operate the robotic craft at a lower cost than its competitors by utilizing the facilities and equipment at its partnered Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSI). The leadership structure also has experience developing autonomous robotic vehicles. Lastly, the team has access to expert resources from the largest HBCU wide research initiative (ARTSI in collaboration with research one institutions focused on robotics.

Launch Date: September 12, 2011, time 12 noon
The JURBAN Challenge team will launch the JOLHT spacecraft using two different propulsion rockets in 2011, which will run on alternative hydrocarbon jet fuel. There will be a several stage chemical combustion rocket to enable the craft to escape the earth’s atmosphere. There will be an electrostatic ion propulsion device used to propel the craft towards Moon after the craft leave earth’s atmosphere. Chemical rocket will again be using to performed correction to the crafts trajectory upon closing in on the moon. Once near the Moon, the JOLHT spacecraft will transfer into lunar orbit, where it will remain for as much as three Earth days.

General Capabilities

The JURBAN Challenge: JOLHT craft will:

  • Travel 500 meters across the lunar surface
  • Capture high definition images and communicate images back to earth from the moon
  • Be able to traverse the lunar surface
  • Provide power for ground propulsion means.
  • Be able avoid impassible objects and be able to alter its course to maneuver around impassable objects.
  • Be able to survive conditions (i.e., extreme cold) on the lunar surface.
  • Have a high definition computer controlled digital camera with pan and tilt capabilities.
  • Have an antenna system capable to broad casting signals to earth from moon
  • Be able to provide power to all on board systems. This will be achieved will photovoltaic panels and batteries (team will investigate alternative energy and fuel means such as biofuel)

Flight Plan
The location of launch will be the Wallop Island NASA facility. The duration of the flight may be up to 10 earth days. The craft will land on the moon using inflatable air bags to cushion impact. The velocity on impact will have a normal component limited to 3 meters per second. The craft will be designed also take on the challenge to withstand cold lunar nights up to 15 days.
Physical Structure

The JOHLT spacecraft will be designed not to exceed two feet wide by five feet long by two feet high with all moveable members full retracted. The weight of the payload system will not exceed 200 pounds while on earth. All equipment and payload will be designed to withstand the temperature ranges and other environment conditions on the moon.

Store and forward telemetry checks will be autonomously performed by taking images of the intended landing site with an on board laser transmitter to send encoded pulses back to earth for data communication. Communication to the craft and pay load will be achieved by high power microwave telecommunication or lasers. This Laser transmitter will be used to send video data from the Moon to earth.

The JURBAN Challenge team has identified a potential landing site at Oceanus Procellarun located 3.014s and 23.419w. Other landing sites will be investigated by the team. The exact method of landing on the Moon is still being determined. Furthermore, the team will encourage innovative ways by also encouraging members of the team to determine topics that may have interest for NASA’s and National Science Foundation’s SBIR/STTR program.

As previously indicated, craft will have an on board laser transmitter to send encoded pulses back to earth for data communication. Communication to the craft and pay load will be achieved by high power microwave telecommunication or lasers. This Laser transmitter will be used to send video data from the Moon to earth. The team will partner with Bowie State University and Morgan State University to combine supercomputers for a grid. The team will also solicit CPU cycles from a grassroots campaign of individual computers to contribute to the processing power required for telemetry, image analysis, etc.

The JURBAN Challenge team sill is finalizing a novel and unobvious method for lunar locomotion. The navigation of the craft will be primarily autonomous based on the “cognitive service” software that students are advancing from its JURBAN: autonomous ground vehicle. Tele-operated (semi-autonomous) capabilities will be innovatively facilitated where team members designated in control and command group (including members of the physically challenged community) will wear Juxtopia® Augmented Reality Goggles (i.e., funded by a NSF SBIR/STTR Phase II grant) to control the vehicle using speech recognition and gesture. The navigation system will have the ability to detect the position and orientation of the craft with respect the earth and the moon. The craft’s “cognitive service” navigation and path planning software will have the ability to make adjustments to the crafts trajectory to return the craft to the intended course should the craft become off course. We will test the navigation of the craft on a simulated testing course the resembles the Moon’s surface.

Team Bios
Dr. Jayfus T. Doswell (Leader) was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He holds degrees in cognitive neuro-psychology and computer science from Oberlin College; Masters of Computer Science from Howard University; and a Ph.D. of Information Technology from George Mason University. He successfully leads The Juxtopia® Group and Juxtopia, LLC He is the program manager for the ARTSI Alliance, which is the largest HBCU wide robots research initiative to encourage African American college students to pursue graduate degrees in computer science and robot related areas. He has secured NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I and II and foundation funding. Lastly, Doswell built and lead the very 1st African American team to compete in the DARPA Urban Grand challenge.

Mr. Ojai Mallory (Technical Lead) was born and raised in New York. Mr. Mallory has successfully designed and built semi-autonomous and autonomous robotic systems. Mr. Mallory attended Morgan State University’s electrical engineering program and currently is the lead product engineer for the Juxtopia® Augmented Reality product and robotic initiative.

Team Members

  • Dr. Jayfus T. Doswell
  • Blaze Sanders
  • Thomas Eiden
  • Team Leader:
    Dr. Jayfus T. Doswell
    United States

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