The first "official" team to register for the $30 million dollar Lunar X prize sponsored by Google is none other than robotics department at Carnegie Mellon university.
The team will be lead by robotics hotshot Dr. William "Red" Whittaker. An excerpt from the CMU moon rover website sums up his robotic contributions and qualifications best.
Dr. William "Red" Whittaker is the Fredkin Professor of Robotics, Director of
the Field Robotics Center, and founder of the National Robotics Engineering
Consortium, all at Carnegie Mellon University. His focus is on mobile robots
that pick their own path through outdoor terrains, from the Dante robots that
walked into active volcanoes to rovers that have trekked across deserts and
Antarctic ice fields. He led Carnegie Mellon's Grand Challenge teams. Dr.
Whittaker's portfolio includes the development of computer architectures for
controlling mobile robots; modeling and planning for non-repetitive tasks;
complex problems of objective sensing in random and dynamic environments; and
integration of complete field robot systems.
Dr. Whittaker is widely known for his achievements in the robotics community.
A few of his awards include: Engelberger Technology Award; Design News Special
Achievement Award; Hero of Manufacturing Award; Aviation & Space Technology
Award. Dr. Whittaker has advised twenty-three Ph.D. students, has sixteen
patents, and has authored or co-authored over 150 publications.
Still, armchair astronomers and space travel enthusiasts are asking the same question...
Is this the man who will take us back to the moon?