The KIBO Robot Programming Challenge (KIBO-RPC) is hosted by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in cooperation with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the United States. The 2nd KIBO-RPC Taiwan Preliminary Round was held by National Space Organization (NSPO) of National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs) on July 10, 2021. Due to the epidemic, the event was conducted through an online conference. A total of 12 teams submitted programs, 11 of which achieved the best A-level results. After combining their technical results with presentation scores, the GeminiPYTW team won the first place and received a prize of NT$20,000. GeminiPYTW team members are from Universidad Politécnica Taiwán Paraguay who are currently studying at National Central University, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, and R.O.C. (Taiwan) Air Force Academy. The team of Taipei Fuhsing Robotics Alpha from Taipei Fuhsing Private School won the second place and received a prize of NT$12,000. The team of Clash Of Win from National Nanke International Experimental High School and National Yunlin University of Science and Technology won the third place and received a prize of NT$8,000. The remaining winning awards went to three teams, including the O__O team from National Experimental High School at Hsinchu Science Park, the Hatsune no Friends team from National Tsing Hua University, Waseda University, and National Nanke International Experimental High School, and the CK Robotics-X team from Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School. Each of three winning teams received a prize of NT$5,000.
The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) is actively developing the space technology and promoting the space industry currently, and cultivating space technology and industrial talents is its foundation work. The newly passed Space Development Law also expressly stipulates that the competent authority, MOST, should promote the popularization of space science and cultivate talents for the development of space industry. NSPO of NARLabs implements the policies of MOST and actively assists students to participate in related international competitions of space technology, and cultivates the seeds of space technology for Taiwan.
The International Space Station (ISS) is jointly maintained and operated by the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, and European countries. The Japanese Experiment Module (KIBO) is a module manufactured by JAXA. Although the topic is similar to last year, the difficulty of this competition has increased. Participants must program to control the flying robot Astrobee on KIBO more accurately, let it reach a fixed point in the simulated space capsule and make specified actions. The biggest challenge of the competition is that there are many no-passing zones in the simulation system. While creating the program, participants need to consider these uncertain interference factors and design a stable algorithm so that Astrobee can avoid these no-passing zones successfully and arrive at the designated point in time to perform the mission. The same program affected by interference factors will have 8 different results when executed 8 times. Therefore, each submitted program will be executed 8 times, and the worst performance will be scored. If the robot cannot complete the task within 10 minutes, no points will be scored.
A total of 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region (4 more countries than last year) hold KIBO-RPC preliminaries this year, and Taiwan preliminary round is hosted by NSPO of NARLabs. Each team in this competition consists of at least three students regardless of grade. Taiwan is the country with the second largest number of teams registered among all participating countries. A total of 18 teams signed up and 98 students participated, including 77 students from 16 high schools and 21 students from 10 universities. Due to its high technical threshold, there were 12 teams in the competition who submitted their programs on time. Among the 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Taiwan has the second largest number of participating teams passing the test.
The GeminiPYTW team, who won the championship of Taiwan Preliminary Round, will participate in Programming Skills Round (arranged by JAXA) with the winning teams from other Asia-Pacific countries. If selected, they will be able to participate in the final round scheduled in September 2021. In the finals, participants will operate the actual Astrobee and work with professional scientists and engineers to learn the most advanced scientific, engineering, and mathematical skills. In addition, they can interact with contestants from all over the world and enhance opportunities for international exchanges.
The first place team of the second KIBO robot programming challenge - Gemini PYTW
The second place team of the second KIBO robot programming challenge - Taipei Fuhsing Robotics Alpha
The Third place team of the second KIBO robot programming challenge - Clash of Win