The award ceremony for Taiwan preliminary round of KIBO Robot Programming Challenge, jointly hosted by JAXA (Japan) and NASA (USA), on July 15 at National Space Organization (NSPO), National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs). A total of 23 teams ran their simulation codes in the Challenge, with 11 achieving the highest possible grade for their results. “Taipei Fushing Robotics Omega” from Taipei Fushing Private School won the first place and a prize of NT$20,000. “Elite Leopard” from National Nanke International Experimental High School and “FRCPY” from Taipei Municipal Chenggong High School ranked second with a prize of NT$10,000. “Junk Kollection” from National Formosa University and National Central University, and “#define team 87” from National Kaohsiung Normal University and National Chung Cheng University, ranked third and received NT$5,000.
KIBO is a JAXA-developed science module attached to the International Space Station (ISS) – a collaboration between a number of countries and regions including USA, Russia, Japan, Canada, and Europe. The KIBO Challenge was based on the premise that a piece of debris hit the ISS and caused air leakage. Participants were tasked with writing codes to manipulate the movement of the flying KIBO robot, Astrobee, reach a fixed point in the simulated space capsule and make designated actions to complete the anti-leak mission. The greatest challenge this competition presented was the multiple prohibited areas included in the simulation, bringing to the fore a variety of unknown disturbances participants would have to consider when writing codes for Astrobee. The teams were focused on designing a stable algorithm allowing Astrobee to successfully evade prohibited areas and promptly make its way to its destination. Affected by the disturbance factor, the same program executed 10 times would have 10 different results, so the submitted program would be executed 10 times, and the worst one would be scored. If the robot could not complete the task for more than 10 minutes, no points would be scored.
A total of seven countries in the Asia Pacific region held preliminary competitions, with six of the winning teams to be selected for the final. Of all the competing countries, Taiwan had the second highest number of participating teams; a total of 58 signed up for the challenge. The high technical threshold the competition set meant only 23 teams were able to run their codes and complete the mission. In order to abide by pandemic prevention regulations, the preliminary competition was conducted online and live-streamed on Facebook and Youtube.
NSPO Director General Dr. Chun-Liang Lin presented the awards to all the winning teams and made the welcome speech to all teams and wished students who were interested in space would join Taiwan space industries in the future for Taiwan’s space technology innovators. “Taipei Fuhsing Robotics Omega” was one of the best teams, which can make it to the final, and NSPO will cover their travel expenses from Taiwan to Tsukuba, Japan, in September to compete in the final round of the KIBO Challenge where they will have the chance to control the real Astrobee’s movements in the ISS. Participating students will have the chance to work with professional scientists and engineers, and learn about the world’s most advanced scientific, engineering and mathematical technology while engaging with participants from all over the world. In additional to the robot programming, the finalist team should present the introduction video and the questions to astronauts in the ISS, and that is part of final round program.
A group photo for all winning teams
All winning teams visiting NSPO