Campus News in Brief

CMU students participate in video chat laptop orchestra

A laptop orchestra at Carnegie Mellon will participate in a concert with six other universities in the United States and United Kingdom via the internet on April 16. Carnegie Mellon computer science, music, and art professor Roger Dannenberg will direct the multi-city collaboration from Louisiana State University. The orchestra is part of the first ever Symposium on Laptop Ensembles and Orchestras.

The other laptop orchestras involved in the performance will perform from Baton Rouge; Stanford University; Texas A&M University; the University of Colorado; the University of Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, England; and Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Each orchestra will be able to hear and respond to the others’ performances through audio and visual links.

“The speed of light is a limitation for us, so I won’t be able to control the beat,” Dannenberg said in a university press release. “But I can give cues for the orchestras to play with different textures or sounds.” Acoustic soloists will also accompany the laptops at each performance location.

Carnegie Mellon’s performance, which will include about 18 students, will take place in the University Center’s McConomy Auditorium at 8:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

Astrobotic unveils design of new lunar rover Polaris

The Robotics Institute spin-off Astrobotic Technology, which was founded by robotics professor William “Red” Whittaker, has announced a new name, design, and mission for its lunar rover. The new rover, called Polaris, will mine for potentially rich deposits of ice, methane, and other natural resources found at the moon’s north pole.

Astrobotic is building Polaris with the hopes of winning Google’s Lunar X Prize, which will award over $20 million to a privately funded company that can land and operate a robot on the moon by December 2015. According to a recent article published in Scientific American, Astrobotic is currently one of the front-runners in the contest.

The company’s new mission is to have Polaris launch atop a rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in late October 2015. The rover’s new design would focus on exploring the moon’s pole, which was never explored by any of the Apollo expeditions. After landing on the moon’s surface, Polaris will spend the next 12 days looking for ice, and will be equipped with drills to take samples of the ice.

Polaris, which can carry up to 175 pounds of payload, was adapted from a lunar excavation machine that Astrobotic prototyped in 2010.