To win the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a team must create a rocket to take us to the moon, a craft to navigate on the lunar surface and survive long enough to complete the mission goals of roaming about the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending a defined data package, called a "Mooncast", back to Earth. Additional tasks includes imaging man made artefacts (e.g. Apollo hardware), discovering water ice, and surviving through a frigid lunar night!
The problem with this competition is that most ordinary people here in NZ don’t have the deep pockets and the access to technology to actually put together something like this to win this challenge.
So my kids and I were delighted when X PRIZE Foundation, Google and LEGO announced the new Moonbots challenge on Friday. 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.
First my children and I set up a team and started work on our first prototype. The first attempt was very encouraging – we managed to create an autonomous robot that can roam around inside a crater of the moon without hitting the edges of the crater. [We used our pool to do the testing].
Here is the video of our first attempt:
I will keep you all posted as me and the kids work on this and the design evolve in the coming weekends. In the mean time, subscribe to http://www.moonbots.org to be notified when the contest officially begins.
If you want to enter, click here:
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