avishere writes: Student teams designed and built robotic power-lifters to excavate simulated lunar soil (a.k.a. "regolith") last week, and with $750,000 up for grabs, the goal was to leave your opponents in the dust — literally. Excavating regolith, according to NASA, will be an important part of any construction projects or processing of natural resources on the Moon. Interestingly, regolith is especially difficult to dig because its dust particles want to stick together. The whole robotic system has to be sturdy enough to scoop moon dirt and powerful enough to move through the dust while still meeting the weight requirements. The winning excavator from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts lifted 1,103 pounds within the allotted time, and got a sweet $500,000 for their troubles.