The modular flooring system (MFS) was developed to provide a portable, modular, durable carpeting solution for NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project’s (RAP) outreach efforts. It was also designed to improve and replace a modular flooring system that was too heavy for safe use and transportation. The MFS was developed for use as the flooring for various robotics competitions that RAP utilizes to meet its mission goals. One of these competitions, the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), currently uses two massive rolls of broadloom carpet for the foundation of the arena in which the robots are contained during the competition. The area of the arena is approximately 30 by 72 ft (≈9 by 22 m). This carpet is very cumbersome and requires large-capacity vehicles, and handling equipment and personnel to transport and deploy. The broadloom carpet sustains severe abuse from the robots during a regular three-day competition, and as a result, the carpet is not used again for competition. Similarly, broadloom carpets used for trade shows at convention centers around the world are typically discarded after only one use. This innovation provides a green solution to this wasteful practice.

Each of the flooring modules in the previous system weighed 44 lb (≈20 kg). The improvements in the overall design of the system reduce the weight of each module by approximately 22 lb (≈10 kg) (50 %), and utilize an im - proved “module-to-module” connection meth od that is superior to the previous system.

The MFS comprises 4-by-4-ft (≈1.2-by-1.2-m) carpet module assemblies that utilize commercially available carpet tiles that are bonded to a lightweight substrate. The substrate surface opposite from the carpeted surface has a module-to-module connecting interface that allows for the modules to be connected, one to the other, as the modules are constructed. This connection is hidden underneath the modules, creating a smooth, co-planar flooring surface. The modules are stacked and strapped onto durable, commercially available drywall carts for storage and/or transportation. This method of storage and transportation makes it very convenient and safe when handling large quantities of modules.

This work was done by Robert Thate of Goddard Space Flight Center. For further information, contact the Goddard Innovative Partnerships Office at (301) 286-5810. GSC-16240-1