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The 4th Kibo Robot Programming Challenge: Report on the Results of the Final Round

  • Experiment at Kibo
  • Kibo Utilization Office for Asia (KUOA)


On October 21, 2023, JAXA held the 4th Kibo Robot Programming Challenge (Kibo-RPC) Final Round Event. 10 representative teams (Table 1), who had won the countries/region preliminary round, competed with programs they created to demonstrate the accuracy of their laser beams and the time it took to reach the goal of the competition by using NASA's Astrobee. For the first time since Kibo-RPC began, the Final Round Event was held as a hybrid event at the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center and online, with 5 teams participating in the event at the Tsukuba Space Center.

A video of the event is available on the following JAXA channel on YouTube.

Figure 1: JAXA Astronaut FURUKAWA Satoshi and UAE Astronaut Sultan Saif ALNEYADI send messages to the participating students after the competition. (Image by NASA/JAXA)

Table 1: List of teams participating in the on-orbit finals (in alphabetical order)

Country/Region Team Name
Australia Dream Rover
Bangladesh Team Paragon
Japan Eager Hoper
Malaysia Zetsubo
Singapore SST1
Taiwan Flying Unicorns
Thailand Galactic4
UNOOSA ORION (Indonesia)
USA Salcedo

About the Final Round Event

At the beginning of the event, in addition to greetings from Professor NAKASUKA Shinichi of the University of Tokyo and JAXA Astronaut WAKATA Koichi, the event MC, JAXA Associate Senior Administrator MIYAGAWA Yayoi, provided an overview of the event and introduced a video message from Jose V. BENAVIDES (Astrobee Project Manager) of the NASA Ames Research Center (ARC). After an explanation of the game rules by NAGASE Katsura, JAXA Engineer, Astronaut Furukawa introduced the ISS Kibo, the venue for the competition, and the Final Round Event began. (Figure 2) (Program: Table 2)
MC: JAXA Associate Senior Administrator MIYAGAWA Yayoi
Commentator and General Evaluation: Prof. NAKASUKA Shinichi, University of Tokyo
Commentator: JAXA Astronaut WAKATA Koichi
NASA Astrobee Project Manager: Jose V. BENAVIDES
(Image by NASA)
Rules Explanation: JAXA Engineer NAGASE Katsura

Figure 2: Scenes from the Competition

Highlights of the Competition

Team strategies such as choosing the efficient path to move the Astrobee, laser irradiation position, and time management were important in this year's rules, and each team had its own unique strategy. For example, since the QR code can be read at any time, some teams focused on the timing for reading the QR code, while others chose to irradiate more targets without reading the QR code. After introducing their teams, students watched how Astrobee moved in the Kibo by their program and whether it could successfully complete its mission (Figure 3). While some teams were able to successfully complete their missions, the differences between the simulation environment used in the preliminary round and the real environment affected the results, and some teams learned about the difficulties that only a real environment can provide. (Results for Each Team: Table 3)
Figure 3: The competition

Announcement of Results

After all teams finished their run, the results of the final round were announced.
The first-place winner was the Taiwan representative “Flying Unicorns” (Figure 4). “SST1” (Figure 5), representing Singapore, took second place, and “Galactic4” (Figure 6), representing Thailand, took third place (Table 2). During the awards ceremony, as the team names were announced, they expressed their joy and shared the moment with their teammates. The first-place winner, Flying Unicorns, and the third-place winner, Galactic4, received their certificates directly from Astronaut WAKATA, as they both participated in-person at the Tsukuba Space Center. The second-place Singapore team also received a certificate of commendation at a later date.
Figure 4: First Place “Flying Unicorns” (Taiwan)
Figure 5: Second Place “SST1” (Singapore)
Figure 6: Third Place “Galactic4” (Thailand)
The 4th Kibo-RPC was the first competition after the restrictions on the spread of the COVID-19 were lifted, and a total of 24 students and space agency staff participated in the event at the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center. Unlike online-only events, the finalists were able to interact with each other and enjoyed attending the event.

Appreciation and Advisory Notice

The 4th Kibo-RPC was a success thanks to the space agencies/research institutes of the participating countries/region that cooperated in organizing this event, as well as to the students who prepared and submitted their programs undeterred until the very end. We hope that the knowledge and experiences gained from this event will have a positive effect on your future endeavors.
The 5th Kibo-RPC is in the works, and we eagerly anticipate your involvement in the next competition.

Table 2: Kibo-RPC Finals Program

Program Participant
1 Opening video Moderator: MIYAGAWA Yayoi, Associate Senior Administrator, JEM Utilization Center, JAXA
2 Introduction:Introduction of the moderator and commentator and information about the orbital finals Commentators
・NAKASUKA Shinichi, Professor, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, The University of Tokyo
・WAKATA Koichi, JAXA Astronaut
3 Video Message from ARC Jose V. Benavides, Astrobee Project Manager, NASA Ames Research Center
4 Rules Explanation NAGASE Katsura, JAXA Engineer, JEM Utilization Center, JAXA
5 Opening Remarks Video FURUKAWA Satoshi, JAXA Astronaut
6 Introduction by each team and video playback of in-orbit operations (in ABC order) Commentators
・JAXA Astronaut WAKATA
7 Results and Awards
Winner's Interview
Result Presenter
Winning Team
Flying Unicorns (Taiwan)
8 Evaluation Prof. NAKASUKA
9 Closing Remarks JAXA Astronaut Furukawa
UAE Astronaut Sultan Alneyadi
10 Final Remarks Moderator Ms. MIYAGAWA

Table 3: List of results of in-orbit finals

Rank Country / Region Team Name Mission
Completion Time
of Phases
the Goal
Reading QR Leaser Hit /
Active Targets
1 Taiwan Flying Unicorns 4:56.5 5 4/7 110.77
2 Singapore SST 1 3:36.6 3 2/4 98.54
3 Thailand Galactic4 4:38.5 4 4/6 94.79
4 UNOOSA ORION 4:51.1 4 × × 4/6 91.99
5 Bangladesh Team Paragon 4:14.1 3 4/6 70.20
6 UAE AUS-IEEE-RAS 4:08.2 4 × 3/6 61.51
7 Malaysia Zetsubo 3:53.5 2 × × 1/3 24.77
8 Australia Dream Rover 5:25.8 3 × × 0/4 Time’s up
8 Japan Eager Hoper 5:17.4 4 × 3/6 Time’s up
8 US Team Salcedo - 3 × × 2/4 Time’s up

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