XPRIZE Foundation and LEGO Group Announce Winners in "MoonBots" Educational Contest
Playa Vista, CA (September 01, 2010) — Today, the XPRIZE Foundation, an educational non-profit organization that drives innovation through incentive prizes , and LEGO Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials for children, announced the winners of MoonBots, a global educational contest. The competition partnered with major technology leaders including Google, Inc., National Instruments and Wired Magazine’s GeekDad blog and challenged students, ranging from ages 9 – 18, to create simulated lunar rovers, using LEGO bricks and MINDSTORM components, similar to those competing for the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, an international competition for privately funded teams to build a rover to land on and explore the surface of the Moon. More than 200 teams from 16 nations representing every continent but Antarctica registered for MoonBots.
Team Landroids of New Jersey, a group of five 8th-grade neighborhood friends who participate in various science competitions and robotics challenges, was named the grand winner of MoonBots. As part of their reward, the team will travel to LEGO’s world headquarters in BIllund, Denmark to tour the LEGO factory and meet with company executives. Second place was awarded to team Shadowed Craters of California and third place was claimed by Team Moonwalk, jointly of New Jersey and Connecticut. All three finalist teams also received registrations and start up kits to compete in the FIRST®. robotics competitions.
Winners were selected by a team of expert judges including XPRIZE Foundation Trustees Anousheh Ansari, entrepreneur and private astronaut and Dean Kamen, inventor, entrepreneur and founder of the FIRST robotics competitions. Other judges included Master LEGO robot builder Steve Hassenplug and Jeff Kodosky, co-Founder of the engineering firm National Instruments.
“We were overwhelmed by the achievements of the MoonBotsfinalists,” noted Steven Canvin, Community Manager for LEGO MINDSTORMS. “Watching these teams of students—plus their adult coaches and mentors—make their LEGO MINDSTORMS robots autonomously navigate a simulated lunar landscape built from LEGO elements, we have seen firsthand how teams of children engage complex problems and actually find viable solutions. Putting a robot on the surface of the Moon is a tremendous feat, and it was wonderful to give these students a taste of what that would entail. Hopefully, this gives them the confidence and passion move onwards to very successful careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” The first phase of the competition required students to conduct in-depth research about lunar exploration as well as use Computer Assisted Design (CAD) software mock up a lunar robot. From there, the top 20 teams advanced to the second stage where finalists spent the summer preparing for a live “Mission Webcast,” in which each team’s robot performed a variety of tasks meant to simulate the requirements of the Google Lunar XPRIZE. Each team also completed a video essay about Lunar Exploration as well as a video documentary about their process in the journey of learning about the Google Lunar XPRIZE and STEM related lessons.
“The work these students did this summer was truly spectacular” said William Pomerantz, Senior Director of Space Prizes for the XPRIZE Foundation. “The mission very closely paralleled the work our Google Lunar XPRIZE teams were doing, so we greatly enjoyed watching those technical challenges worked out on a different scale. The new era of lunar exploration is being built on the contribution of people of all ages and nationalities, and it is clear that the MoonBots participants have what it takes to make important contributions.”
For more information about MoonBots and to read about the three winners and all of the other competitors, please visit: www.moonbots.org.
ABOUT THE GOOGLE LUNAR XPRIZE
The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE is an unprecedented competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a privately-funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon’s surface that explores at least 500 meters (1/3 of a mile) and transmits high definition video and images back to Earth. The first team to do so will claim a $20 million Grand Prize, while the second team will earn a $5 million Prize. Teams are also eligible to win a $1 million award for stimulating diversity in the field of space exploration and as much as $4 million in bonus prizes for accomplishing additional technical tasks such as moving ten times as far, surviving the frigid lunar night, or visiting the site of a previous lunar mission. To date, more than 20 teams from a dozen countries around the world have registered to compete for the prize. The Google Lunar XPRIZE is available to be claimed until the end of the year 2015.
ABOUT THE XPRIZE FOUNDATION
Founded in 1995, the XPRIZE Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization solving the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. The organization motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines to leverage their intellectual and financial capital for the benefit of humanity. The XPRIZE Foundation conducts competitions in four Prize Groups: Education & Global Development; Energy & Environment; Life Sciences; and Exploration (Ocean and Deep Space). Prizes won include the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE for private, suborbital space flight; the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive XPRIZE for creating safe, affordable, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG energy equivalent (MPGe); and the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander XCHALLENGE for advanced rocket development. Active prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $10 million Archon Genomics XPRIZE, and the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE. For more information, visit www.xprize.org.
ABOUT THE LEGO GROUP
The LEGO Group is a privately held, family-owned company based in Billund, Denmark. It was founded in 1932, and today, the group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials for children, employing approximately 5,600 people globally. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children’s creative and imaginative abilities. LEGO products can be purchased in more than 130 countries. For more information, please visit www.lego.com.
ABOUT LEGO MINDSTORMS
In 1998, The LEGO Group spearheaded the consumer robotics category the company with the launch of the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Robotics Invention System, that introduced children to the world of robotics, and offering the ability to create their own intelligent, interactive, autonomous LEGO robots. The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robotics toolkits allow children of all ages to design, build, and program their own robots using LEGO building elements, customized hardware, and an easy-to-use icon-based graphical programming language. For more information, please visit mindstorms.lego.com.
ABOUT WIRED / CONDE NAST
Wired.com is your essential daily guide to what's next, delivering the most original and complete take you'll find anywhere on innovation's impact on technology, science, business and culture. Wired.com's award-winning news reporting, unique commentary, authoritative reviews and practical hands-on tutorials make it the go-to site for thoughtful and comprehensive coverage of innovation's impact on all aspects of our lives. Join 14 million of the smartest readers on the planet. Wired.com is part of the Condé Nast Digital Business Group, comprised of Wired.com, Arstechnica.com, Newyorker.com, Golfdigest.com and Reddit.com.
ABOUT NATIONAL INSTRUMENTS
National Instruments is transforming the way engineers and scientists design, prototype and deploy systems for measurement, automation and embedded applications. NI empowers customers with off-the-shelf software such as NI LabVIEW and modular cost-effective hardware, and sells to a broad base of more than 30,000 different companies worldwide, with no one customer representing more than 3 percent of revenue and no one industry representing more than 15 percent of revenue. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 5,000 employees and direct operations in more than 40 countries. For the past 10 years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America. For more information, please visit www.ni.com.