RLV News alerts us that the draft 2008 Regolith Excavation Challenge Rules are available for comment. In fact, they've started a whole new look and feel for their web site for the 2008 Challenge. Don't worry, though, you can still look up the 2007 teams, sponsors, and all the rest here.
Here are some highlights from the rules and the associated introduction. It's tougher, but also keep in mind that this year the prize is 3 times larger: $750,000.
"The most significant changes include the addition of several rules which implement a mobility requirement for the excavators. We will also more closely simulate the lunar surface by including rocks, which will be placed randomly throughout the sandbox. Based on input from NASA, the new mobility requirement better reflects the needs of the lunar surface architecture currently being designed."
"The TEAMs that can autonomously excavate the most lunar regolith simulant (above the Minimum Excavation Requirement and within Excavation Hardware mass and power limits) from a supplied quantity of regolith within a specified Time Limit will win the CHALLENGE and are eligible to receive First, Second or Third Prize of US$500,000.00, US$150,000.00 and US$100,000.00, respectively."
"Minimum Excavation Requirement – The total Excavated Mass, 150 kg, that must be exceeded in order to win the CHALLENGE."
"There will be four large rocks placed on top of the compressed regolith surface within the
Sandbox before each of the Competition Attempts are made. Each rock will be approximately the size and weight of a bowling ball."
Check out the rules quickly; they'll compile the comments on October 1.
Here's an interesting school I ran across checking out the challenge. The Milwaukee School of Engineering is home to the Moon Rovers, a Regolith Excavation Challenge team that did their work as part of a Senior Design project. You can see more about them at the linked page. The other thing that you'll notice is that there are also all sorts of other cool-sounding design projects, including some for engineering competitions.