The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) declared Khalifa University the UAE Zero Robotics Programming Challenge (UAE ZRPC) winner on Saturday.
Khalifa University won the competition thanks to their outstanding management of the Astrobee in a microgravity setting and their exceptional coding abilities.
Team 2 and the Team from the UAE University won second and third place, respectively.
An innovative programming contest called the UAE Zero Robotics Programming Challenge was held on the International Space Station (ISS) with the help of Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and NASA worked together to build the UAE ZRPC.
University students can demonstrate their programming and critical thinking abilities through this Challenge. They did this by teaching Astrobee, a free-flying robot, how to produce Arabic characters in the microgravity of the International Space Station.
The UAE’s aim for a future full of science and technology places a premium on involving students in STEM fields. With Sultan’s mission on board the ISS, we begin a new era in outreach programs for education. According to Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director General of MBRSC, “This challenge is the kind of inspired learning we aim for at MBRSC, nurturing the innovators and explorers of tomorrow and catapulting the UAE to the forefront of international space exploration.”
AlNeyadi helped in the UAE Zero Robotics Programming Challenge’s dry run on the International Space Station on May 16. The programming for the final event was tested using Astrobee robots during the dry run. The final code submission from the teams came after that, on May 23. On Friday, the on-orbit final run took place. An on-site event was organized at MBRSC where participating teams could see the Challenge in action.
AlNeyadi helped in the UAE Zero Robotics Programming Challenge’s final run. In this round, the teams competed by instructing the Astrobee robot to spell out a series of passwords for the crew that included 3-6 Arabic letters. Due to radio communication difficulties, the passwords were necessary for a made-up situation where two astronauts would have to converse while entering a password to restart a power system.
Thirty-one students from six teams representing five prestigious universities competed in this Challenge. A Lead Professor and a Team Lead led each team. One team from American University in Dubai, Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi, Khalifa University, University of Sharjah, and two from UAE University were among the competing teams.
The students underwent a rigorous training regimen over several weeks to prepare for submitting the final code. The teams used an online simulation throughout the preliminary stages of UAE ZRPC to test their programming and carefully monitor Astrobee’s movement. The robot Astrobee subsequently performed preprogrammed activities after these programs were uploaded, putting their labor of love into action. The task encouraged innovative thinking, technical proficiency, and a deep awareness of practical space programming applications.
The UAE Astronaut Program is one of the initiatives managed by MBRSC under the National Space Programme of the UAE and supported by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), which aims to encourage the integration of the UAE on the international stage and support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE.