This week, the winners of the 2012 Google Lunar X Prize Lego Mindstorms Challenge were announced. The contest, which challenges students to design, program, and build programmable robots that simulate lunar missions similar to those required to win the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize, is in its third year of competition.
This year’s grand prize winners live in a small town in Hungary. Team HungaroBots beat out 146 other teams, including the 29 finalist teams, to win the grand prize. This talented group of 16 and 17 year olds from Sopron, Hungary, have earned a VIP trip to the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems in Hilo, Hawaii. Their win marks the first for an international team.
Runners up included Team Incredibots from Ohio, Team Apollo 19 from California, and Team Titanium Springboks from South Africa; all of them will receive complimentary registrations into the FIRST robotics league.
“We are proud to have seen the number of entrants double over last year, and encouraged by the increased global reach of this competition,” says Chanda Gonzales, Google Lunar X Prize Education Director. “The ingenuity and innovation displayed by the finalists speaks volumes to the promise of future space exploration and associated scientific and technological advancements.”
That ingenuity was evident in Phase One of the competition when teams had to create proposals outlining what their lunar landscape (where their robot would work) might look like and how they might conduct community outreach to spread the word about robotics and lunar exploration. There was intense competition among the teams.
“With more freedom in the competition parameters, teams have had to be very creative and imaginative when building their own lunar landscapes and designing the Lego Mindstorms robots to negotiate them,” adds Steven Canvin, Lego Mindstorms Community Manager. “We are thrilled to partner with the X Prize Foundation to provide the tools and the framework to enable young people around the world to promote STEM education within their schools and communities.”
Lego’s tools were provided to the finalists in Phase Two, when all thirty teams received Mindstorms robots prior to creating a lunar landscape to run their games. Competition was streamed live, so teams could watch each other execute their game plans.
Overall, competition was far more unique than in previous years, thanks to students creating their own games. Competition was enjoyable for all involved and congratulations to everyone who participated, but especially the HungaroBots and the runners up!
Disclosure: GeekDad is a MoonBots Challenge Partner.