Alec Goodson, right, and Marc Roberts (photo by Marc Roberts)

Will Barden, left, and Marc Roberts (photo by Marc Roberts)

A robotics team from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo won second place in the Virtual Challenge category of this year’s NASA Swarmathon, held April 18–20 at NASA Kennedy Space Center. Students Will Barden and Alec Goodson, led by physics lab coordinator Marc Roberts, competed among 15 national teams in the Swarmathon’s Virtual Competition.

The Swarmathon Challenge tasked competing students with developing a search and retrieval algorithm for virtual robots to develop real-world strategies for identifying and collecting resources found on places like the Moon and Mars. The team claimed victory by rewriting the Swarmathon code with instructions that gave their bots an efficient edge in seeking out virtual resources.

Barden set up the hardware system for the program by installing the necessary software to compete and Goodson rewrote the programming code.

The UH Hilo trio took home a $1,000 cash prize, which Roberts says will go toward new computer hardware and robotics equipment.

Videos of UH Hilo team’s virtual competition

From UH Hilo Stories