Artist impression of China's Lunar Rover.

Geek Zone: Robots, space and the moon

Rob Orchiston is a software programmer who lives in Invermere and stays on top of the latest trends in technology.

Seventy three teams of technologically inclined students from Central Okanagan schools gathered in Kelowna on Friday, November 29th for the 8th Western Canada RoboCup Junior Games.

Elementary and secondary school students compete in the RoboCup Junior, which is designed to foster interest in science and engineering while promoting co-operation, problem solving and creativity through several robotic challenges: dance, rescue and soccer. In the RoboCup

Junior soccer challenge, teams of two (hopefully) co-operative mobile self-directed robots compete against other teams in matches. Robots respond to the special light emitting ball on an 183-centimetre field and kick it into the goal. Students design, build and program the Robots to the best of their abilities using off-the-shelf and custom adaptations. The winners may proceed to the international competition in João Pessoa, Brazil in July 2014. The cup has been around internationally for 15 years with the goal of having autonomous robots beating humans in the FIFA world cup. Some predictions have the robots winning by the end of this decade.

An exciting event will likely take place later this week on the moon. China successfully launched the Chang’e 3 spacecraft last week — its payload being the six-wheeled Jade Rabbit Lunar Lander. The orbiter has been been circling the moon since last Friday and may land as early as Friday, December 13th. The European Space Agency is assisting the new entrant (China) in this first controlled landing on the moon since Russia’s Luna-24 in 1976. The radioisotope heated rover will spend three months traversing the moonscape and examining the crust. China plans to send some rocks back from the moon by 2020. Nasa’s Curiosity lander is currently in its 18th month on Mars.

Meanwhile Google XPrize is offering $30 million to the first private company to land a probe on the moon by the end of 2015.


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