A few weekends ago, I spent some time with about 80 robots and their 800 masters, the elementary and middle-school students who participate in state-wide FIRST Lego League competition. It was exhilarating to see these bots move, as they circulated for two-and-a-half minutes in a series of challenge matches.
The robots were in pursuit of the maximum number of points they can receive on an eight-by-four-foot challenge board. This year, their tasks simulated the theme of “Senior Solutions,” or the way that robots might assist Senior Citizens in daily life challenges.
FIRST, which stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is a New Hampshire non-profit organization that encourages science and technology education. FIRST Lego League is conducted in collaboration with the LEGO group (think “hardware”) and its Mindstorm NXT robot (think “software”). After middle-school, kids can go on to participate in the FIRST Tech Challenge and the FIRST Robotics Competition.
The FIRST Lego League competition brought home to me personally something that I see happening in our economy and tech-driven society: broadband-driving robotics providing new opportunities for the United States to extend re-extend its competitive advantages back into manufacturing.
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