A New Contest For LEGO Lunar Robots

The Google Lunar X Prize provides a $20-million purse for the first private team to land a robotic vehicle on the moon, drive it around, and send back pictures and video. (We've profiled one of the favorites, the team from Carnegie Mellon University). Unfortunately, the technology (and money) required for a prize-winning mission goes far beyond something you can build in the basement with your kids.

But now there's a new challenge, called MoonBots, that anyone can participate in. Announced this week, the contest asks six-member teams of children and adults to design a LEGO Mindstorms robot suitable for the moon.

From the MoonBots website:

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 teams with the best designs will be provided with free LEGOs to actually build and program their robots. The completed bots will compete in challenges similar to the Lunar X Prize, but on a simulated "Moonscape."

If LEGOs aren't your thing, and you want to work on a real Lunar X robot, check out Team FREDnet, which I featured in a June article about participatory space exploration.

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