Guest Post by FTC Team 5018, Brick Buddies

We are FTC Team 5018, Brick Buddies, a community team from Florida. Recently, we were invited by XPRIZE to serve as an Ambassador Team for the new XPRIZE After Earth Challenge.  Pretty cool!  A summer XPRIZE robotics competition is a great way to stay together or to try-out new members and work on your teamwork. We previously competed in MoonBots and it proved an invaluable way to gel with new members before the start of the FIRST season.

The XPRIZE After Earth Challenge is unique.  How often do you get the opportunity to preserve humanity? There are two phases to the Challenge.  In Phase I, all teams will create a two-minute video.  Choose between exploring two questions.  What steps should your rover take to assess if Nova Prime is habitable? Or, What are some things you are doing individually and in your community to promote a more sustainable way of living?   Learning how to cut and edit video is a great skill for team members to learn.  And over the summer, while not in the middle of competition season, is a great time, to hone these skills.

Judges will select ten (10) finalist teams from the 20 most popular videos in Phase I to move on. Ten Phase II finalists will receive a LEGO® NXT MINDSTORMS® kit and a Sony Handycam HDR-PJ230 to help teams document their experience.

Phase II tasks teams to design a Game for your robot to perform five (5) Missions. Teams create the playing field, the surrounding landscape, and the Missions as required by the Challenge document. Teams are open to use a wide variety of materials, but are encouraged to utilize sustainable, eco-friendly, and recyclable materials. The five (5) Missions are:

NOVA BASE. Create a base placed in one corner of a landscape raised seven (7) centimeters, where the robot will start and end its Mission.

SHELTER/DEFENSE.  A new settlement in an unfamiliar environment will certainly face threats and challenges from unknown organisms or entities.  Nova Prime appears to be uninhabited by higher life forms, but we do not honestly know what we will find there once we arrive. (e.g. natural landscape barriers, sustainable resources for building.  Mission: Design and build one shelter item for the robot to visit.

NATURAL RESOURCE. The availability of natural resources (minerals, flora, fauna, water) is important to the success of human settlement on Nova Prime.  Mission: Design and build one natural resource item to be placed on the landscape.

RENEWABLE ENERGY.  Wind and solar power are in abundant supply on Nova Prime—a planet with two suns and two moons.  Mission: Design and build one renewable energy item and place in on the landscape for the robot to autonomously turn or move.

AGRICULTURE. No human settlement can survive without a way to provide food on Nova Prime.  Mission: Design and build one agriculture item (food, soil testing, water) and place it on the landscape for the robot to retrieve.

One of our team members attends an environmentally sensitive charter school, so we were very excited to work on this part of the Challenge.  A recommendation we have to any teams that might make it into Phase II, is to look at the variety of sustainable and recyclable materials that may be available to you on a local level.  We researched a lot of products such as bamboo, cork, jute, sustainable wood, low-VOC, paint, what could be re-purposed and what recycling items could be useful.  Since our team was creating a demo Challenge Game, we chose to use a different material for each separate Mission.  As a veteran FLL® team, we had a pretty good idea what size some of the Mission items should be in relation to our robot.  Working on the new After Earth Challenge for XPRIZE has been so much fun for us.  We hope to see a lot of FIRST teams signing up!  The deadline to register a team and submit a video is June 7th!