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Robots and rockets highlight new festival at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - A robot revolution will invade Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, March 14th through 16th for the first-ever Robot Rocket RallySM, a three-day festival celebrating the latest in robotic technology from NASA, industry leaders and universities.

Robot Rocket Rally will allow visitors to explore the fascinating world of robots with examples of NASA-developed robots, discover how robotic technology is lending more than just a helping hand to benefit mankind, meet working robots, hear from robotics experts and even operate a robot. Robot Rocket Rally is sponsored by the Visitor Complex and WFTV Channel 9. 

The three-day event features a robotic expo with hands-on exhibits and games showcasing the latest in robotic and engineering technology. The study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is at the heart of Robot Rocket Rally, with exhibitors ranging from middle school robotics clubs to veteran NASA scientists and engineers.

To provide adequate time to explore Robot Rocket Rally and all the Visitor Complex has to offer, visitors may consider purchasing an annual pass to allow for a cost effective multiday experience.

“Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is thrilled to work with NASA and other robotics experts to present this comprehensive, inside look at what is being done now and for the future with robots in space exploration and other important scientific and real-life applications,” said Therrin Protze, Visitor Complex chief operating officer.

Robot Rocket Rally also celebrates NASA’s next big step forward in robotic exploration by supplying robotic climbing legs to Robonaut-2, currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS), with the launch of SpaceX 3, the third resupply mission to the ISS by Space Exploration Technologies. SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule on March 16 at 4:41 a.m. 

Visitors also can learn more about today’s robotic technology by learning from the experts during a series of 20-minute, multimedia presentations on Saturday, March 15 and Sunday, March 16.

Robot Rocket Rally is included in daily admission. Exhibits will include:

  • NASA’s Robonaut 2 (R2): Robot Rocket Rally will provide one of the first opportunities to view the completed Robonaut 2, a dexterous, humanoid robot, developed by NASA to assist astronauts in zero gravity. The torso model, similar to R2 at the International Space Station, is accompanied by an engineering model of R2’s legs, an exact replica of the actual legs launching to the ISS in March. A separate R2 display demonstrates human-like upper-body dexterity.
  • NASA’s X1 Robotic Exoskeleton and Robo-Glove (Human Grasp Assist device): These  NASA-developed technologies are used to assist people with serious ambulatory needs to begin to walk independently for the first time and increase the strength of a human’s grasp to assist with rehabilitation muscle atrophy.
  • NASA’s RASSOR: A robotic miner, RASSOR is designed to skim lunar soil to collect and transport moon dust to be converted into rocket fuel or breathing air for astronauts.
  • PhoneSat: A new generation of satellites, PhoneSat is the size of a coffee cup and built from commercial, off-the-shelf materials, thus reducing the cost of creating a satellite, and is able to operate from an everyday smart phone
  • Kinect Engineering with Learning (KEWL) XBOX Interactive Exhibits: Guests can experience operating R2 remotely and flying through the ISS in zero gravity.
  • University of Central Florida (UCF) Robotics Club: Guests can see and test drive UCF’s ground competition robot that placed second in the 19th Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition.
  • Open Source Robotics Foundation Virtual Reality Robot Demo: Guests can put on the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset, and control an Atlas robot in a 3D world.
  • Otherlab:  Guests will interact with Bop’em Pop’em Robot, a life size inflatable boxing robot, a Pneubotic manipulator and an active fabric orthotic. The “Pneubotics” program at Otherlab has produced the world’s first inflatable, robotic arm technology that makes highly capable, low-cost robots.
  • iRobot 110 FirstLook® and 510 PackBot®: Guests can drive the iRobot 110 FirstLook robot, a small, lightweight “throwable” robot that surveys areas and investigates confined spaces, and view the 510 PackBot in action. This same type of PackBot performs bomb disposal and other dangerous missions for troops and first responders.
  • Virginia Tech Robotics: Meet Charli, the first autonomous, full-size walking robot with humanoid characteristics developed in the United States. The four-limbed robot walks, talks, turns, kicks and performs gestures and simple upper body manipulation tasks.
  • DARwin-OP miniature humanoid robots: Watch Kennedy Space Center’s version of a robot soccer cup match. With sophisticated sensors and dynamic motion ability, these robots placed first at the RoboCup kids-size competition in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
  • FIRST® Robotics: View competition-ready robots hand built by Central Florida middle and high school FIRST teams.

Space Trek: Space Trek features robots made from LEGO MINDSTORMS kits.  These robots use the NXT programing language to direct robot movement and various sensor functions. Guests can watch demonstrations as these programmed robots sense and react light, touch and color.