Yesterday, the winners of the 2014 MoonBots Challenge were announced, with the grand prize going to last year’s first runners up, the Incredibots from Columbus, Ohio. The competition, which aims to promote STEM education, challenges teams of students ages 9 to 17 to design, program and build robots that simulate lunar missions mirroring the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, an international competition for privately funded teams to build a rover to land on and explore the Moon’s surface. GeekDad is a sponsor of the competition.
Teams were initially asked to submit a video answering the question, “Why should we go back to the Moon for good?” From there, a panel of judges selected 25 finalists, who were tasked with building and programming a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot, as well as their own lunar landscape for their vehicle to explore.
After two rounds of competition, the Incredibots were able to beat out over 300 teams from 24 countries to win the grand prize, a a trip to the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) at the University of Hawaii at Hilo to test out their robot on the slopes of the Mauna Kea volcano.
All runner-up teams will receive free team registration for the 2014-2015 FIRST® robotics season, and all winning teams will receive a MATRIX Base Set, a 3DR Rover from 3D Robotics and GoPro Hero 3+ cameras. And, because the talent pool was so strong, for the first time ever, the Third Runner-Up position was split between two deserving teams that received equal scores.
Teams winning the runners-up prizes include the first runner up, Team Dalton BRobots from Barcelona, Spain; second runner-up, Team Dutch Delta from Rotterdam, Netherlands; third runner-up, Team Starling from Balwin, Missouri; and third runner-up, Team Electric Dreams from Erie, Pennsylvania.
All of the teams’ accomplishments were hailed by Chanda Gonzales, senior director of the Google Lunar XPRIZE: “The Google Lunar XPRIZE team is truly proud of how the MoonBots competition continues to grow and spread the awareness of lunar exploration thanks to the teams from all over the world who have shared their experience and knowledge throughout their communities. The finalists have showed that they have a very strong grasp on how to use STEM disciplines in a creative and innovative way, and their ingenuity offers great promise for space exploration in the future. We can only start to wonder where these young people will go next!”
GeekDad also salutes all the teams and especially the finalists and the winners. Congratulations!