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WPI team finalists in $1M NASA robot challenge

BY Grant Welker

2/7/2017
WBJ File
WBJ File
The WPI robotics team is the only college team to make the finals of the NASA Robotics Challenge.

A team of Worcester Polytechnic Institute students, faculty and staff are among 20 finalists in a NASA-sponsored robotics challenge -- the only such team from a university, the space agency announced Tuesday.
 
The WPI team and the other finalists will program a virtual robot to compete a series of simulated tasks in dangerous or extreme environments.
The Space Robotics Challenge aims to develop capabilities that human-like robots will need to help astronauts on a mission to Mars someday.
To get to the final round, teams had to demonstrate how they could complete two simulated tasks with their virtual robot. WPI's team had its robot accurately report the position of lights in a simulated environment, and, in a mobility test, walk three meters, press a button to open a door, and pass through the door without falling.
The WPI team will compete for $1 million in prize money in a competition that ends in June. It was awarded $15,000 for making the final round of 20, beating out 405 entries from 55 countries.
Four other teams are from Massachusetts, including from Boston, Medford, Nantucket and South Hadley.