An Estonian team was one of 10 eliminated at a robotics competition held by NASA this weekend. Held for the second year in a row, the event saw its first-ever winner: Team Survey of Los Angeles was awarded 5,000 dollars.
No teams completed Level 2 of the Sample Robot Return Competition, which carried a 1.5 million dollar grand prize. The results were nevertheless a step up from last year, when only one team ended up qualifying to participate, and was unsuccessful.
The event was hosted by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts from June 5-7 during a technology and robotics festival that attracted thousands. There were nine competing teams from the US and one each from Canada and Estonia.
The NASA competition aims to generate innovative ideas for developing robots that can collect research samples on other planets, independently of human control.
To win Level 1, robots had to find and retrieve a 3-inch-tall cylinder about 75 yards away from a starting platform within a 30-minute time limit.
The Estonian team, including Ahti Heinla, one of the original developers of Skype, had raised high hopes on the first day of the competition, when an organizer said it had so far been the most successful.