“To the Moon” and Back with RIEGL USA, Allen & Company, and the NASA Lunabotics Challenge

Utilizing the RIEGL VZ-600I for data collection in a student robotics competition


RIEGL VZ-600i in the UCF Exolith Lab collecting data for Lunabotics Challenge

RIEGL USA, in collaboration with Allen & Company, recently participated in the 2024 NASA Lunabotics Qualification Challenge hosted by the University of Central Florida that took place from May 10th-15th at the Exolith® Lab. The NASA Lunabotics Challenge is a cutting-edge event that brings together over 40 talented university teams from across the country to develop and deploy fully autonomous robots capable of utilizing lunar regolith, which is a loose layer of rock and dust sediment, in a simulated lunar environment. The RIEGL VZ-600i terrestrial laser scanner was utilized by both RIEGL USA and Allen & Company to scan piles of this fabricated “moon dirt” to showcase the success or failure of student robotics to transport the matter.


Tan Nguyen, RIEGL USA TLS Division Manager along with the Allen & Company team during data collection.


“The VZ-600i was the only scanner we have that is rugged enough to deliver in these conditions.” said Kyle Binni, Director of Sales and Business Development at Allen & Company. “The speed, accuracy and versatility exceeded expectations and delivered remarkable results.”

The goal in this project is for student contestant vehicles/lunabots to transport the moon dust/dirt particles to the square flagged off area. The RIEGL VZ-600i is collecting data to measure the quantity of moon particles successfully transported to the designated area. Judges from NASA are taking RIEGL data into account when qualifying the 10 teams that will advance to the final round at Kennedy Space Center at the end of the qualifying rounds.


The RIEGL VZ-600i rigged overhead in the Exolith lab to scan each team’s robotic transports.

“I’m speaking on behalf of NASA when I say that without RIEGL’s help here it’s very possible that we couldn’t have had a competition.” said Richard Johanboeke, Senior Project Manager at NASA. “With RIEGL’s LiDAR we’re now able to accurately measure the volumetric mass of the burns being built by the students, that way we can give them the most accurate score for placement and how they did on each run. The RIEGL team did very well here and we’re extremely happy with the results. Looking forward to working with RIEGL here for years to come!” 

At the end of the qualifying rounds during the Lunabotics Challenge, RIEGL USA’s Tan Nguyen gave a presentation with Allen & Company to present the results and explain the data collection process with the RIEGL VZ-600i. This data was imperative in determining which teams progressed forward to the final round.

“We are very happy to see that the RIEGL VZ-600i can support unique applications such as the Lunabotics challenge competition.” said Tan Nguyen, RIEGL USA’s TLS Division Manager.  “We hope to continue supporting the Lunabotics challenge in the future and play a crucial role in their research and development for space exploration and beyond.”


Tan Nguyen and the RIEGL VZ-600i presentation in the Grand Pegasus Ballroom at the University of Central Florida


You can also read more on the Lunabotics Challenge and its impact to future NASA Artemis Mission Goals and its commitment to Science & Education here:

To watch videos from all three qualifying competition days at the NASA Lunabotics Challenge click the following link:

About the NASA Lunabotics Challenge:

Lunabotics provides accredited institutions of higher learning students (vocational-technical, college, university) an opportunity to apply the NASA systems engineering process to design and build a prototype robot. This robot would be capable of performing the proposed operations on the Lunar surface in support of future Artemis mission goals.

About Allen & Company:

Allen & Company is a technology-driven surveying, mapping, and geospatial services company in Central Florida. Our teams support the needs of architecture, engineering, construction, development, commercial real estate, healthcare, resorts, theme parks, and other industrial clients across the U.S.

About the RIEGL VZ-600i

Unrivaled Productivity – 25 seconds scan time including image capture at a resolution of 6mm. Over 60 scan positions / hour. Meeting all of your productivity needs.
Compact Size – Lightweight and travel ready. Great for quick set up and move from scan position to scan position with ease.
One Button Operation – Initiates the scanner and camera from start to finish. Makes acquiring data effortless.
All in One – No need for external computers or tablets. Fast processing with the onboard CF Express Card functionality. Scan, export, process, done.
Capture – Indoor, outdoor, static, kinematic, simultaneous image acquisition, short-range, or long range. Whatever your project requires. This scanner does it all.
Real-Time Registration – Live point cloud to point cloud alignment. Operable in a wide variety of applications.
ROI – Recoup capital investment faster by completing projects in half the time or less. Allowing you to bid on more projects and continue to expand your product portfolio.


RIEGL is an international leading provider of cutting-edge technology in airborne, mobile, terrestrial, industrial and UAV-based laser scanning solutions for applications in surveying. RIEGL has been producing LiDAR systems commercially for over 40 years and focuses on pulsed time-of-flight laser radar technology in multiple wavelengths. RIEGL’s core smart-waveform technologies provide pure digital LiDAR signal processing, unique methodologies for resolving range ambiguities, multiple targets per laser shots, optimum distribution of measurements, calibrated amplitudes and reflectance estimates, as well as the seamless integration and calibration of systems. RIEGL’s Ultimate LiDARTM 3D scanners offer a wide array of performance characteristics and serve as a platform for continuing Innovation in 3D for the LiDAR industry. From the first inquiry, to purchase and integration of the system, as well as training and support, RIEGL maintains an outstanding history of reliability and support to their customers. Worldwide sales, training, support and services are delivered from RIEGL’s headquarters in Austria and in the USA; main offices in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, UK, and Germany; and a worldwide network of representatives. www.rieglusa.com www.riegl.com