Technology companies create Lego lunar contest to inspire next-generation engineers
The X Prize Foundation, Google Inc., Lego Systems, National Instruments, and Wired’s GeekDad announced "MoonBots: A Google Lunar X Prize Lego Mindstorms Challenge" at National Instruments’ NIWeek 2009. The new contest will challenge small teams comprised of children and adults to design, program, and construct robots that perform simulated lunar missions similar to those required to win the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize, a private race to the Moon designed to enable commercial exploration of space while engaging the global public.
"The Google Lunar X Prize is helping to open a new era of lunar exploration that will involve much broader participation than the first Moon race," said William Pomerantz, senior director for Space Prizes at the X Prize Foundation. "We want students and their parents to understand that they can tackle difficult engineering problems and generate important new ideas regardless of their age or their background-and that they can have fun doing so. This contest is quite accessible for even very young children, but still demands creativity, intelligence, and hard work."
Once registration for the contest opens, teams will be asked to submit designs illustrating how they will build, program and operate their robots using Lego Mindstorms robotic kits. There will be no charge to enter the contest and registration will be open to teams across the globe.
The competition will encourage the participants to use free software tools such as Google’s SketchUp, Lego’s Digital Designer, National Instruments LabView, and Google’s YouTube platform to delineate how their entry will be constructed and how their team will function. From these submissions, a select group will be chosen as finalists and provided with free Lego components to construct a large Moonscape that will serve as the competition’s "playing field." Finalists will then construct, program and demonstrate their robots to be judged.
To learn more about the MoonBots competition and to find out upcoming information when to register to compete, visit www.moonbots.org . For more information about the Google Lunar X Prize and the teams currently registered in the competition, please visit www.googlelunarxprize.org