Teaching kids the beauty of robotics, AI and their environment

Robonetica is more than a robotics company. Even though we’re just one year old, the idea of Robonetica came up way earlier. Being part of Kinetic, we believe in the power of robotics and AI for many years. We started Robonetica with the dream of conquering new worlds with the power of human intelligence and engineering. With the vision of democratizing AI and robotics by making tech and knowledge available to teenagers around the world for free.

AI will conquer the world — let’s make today’s teenagers the superhero

Robotics and AI will change our near future dramatically — they will affect the way we work, live, drive and the whole society in general. Understanding AI will become almost as important as reading and writing. But we’re not prepared for that, yet. The problem is that today, we’re already missing the experts to understand and use these technologies. Compared to the need, there are only a few people in the world who truly understand AI and robotics. This is why we’re convinced that we have to introduce these technologies to teenagers — because, if AI is going to change our everyday life and robots will be all around in a few years, today’s kids and teenagers will be the engineers that build this future.

Gaming, Mars and Kids: The Red Planet Project

In order to reach teenagers and students and spark their interest in technology, we had to break new grounds, adjust to the language of the young and use their platforms. We needed a new approach on education. And which platforms are kids on? Exactly, games.

Robonetica Explorer 1.0 — a fully autonomous AI robot to explore Mars

We started an educational program for AI and robotics allowing teenagers all over the world to learn how to code and build robots themselves — wrapped in a beautiful adventure smartphone game, the “Red Planet Project”. The game is based on a simulation environment for serious robotics, enriched with an entertaining story, becoming an exciting adventure where players build a robot to explore Mars autonomously. The game teaches the players how to code the robot and make it intelligent to send their robot on an expedition to the red planet.

Turning games into educational programs

For the players, the Red Planet Project can be more than just a fun game on their smartphone: In a three-level worldwide competition, the individual robots compete against each other. First, the best 1,000 players are invited to one of five events on five continents, where their robot continues his mission to Mars in AR on-site. After another qualifying round, 5 winners are chosen at the final event. But the prize is not just a trophy or money, the winners get exclusive scholarships for some of the most prestigious technical universities in the world such as the MIT or the Oxford Robotics Institute. The competition takes place every year, but all players are continuously learning as the game itself never stops.

Photo by Tim Swaan on Unsplash

The beauty of exploring new worlds

Besides coding and knowledge of AI and Robotics, the “Red Planet Project” teaches kids that they can reach different worlds with the power of intelligence and engineering. It’s about showing the beauty of our environments and the possibilities of brains. Because you can’t teach a robot how to be alive (autonomously) just like that. There’s always an environment around it. Robonetica brings students closer together with new environments. We educate them about space in the Red Planet Project, on the environment in general and on sustainability in the Amazon game that’s coming next. We want to encourage young people to explore the world, send their robot to Amazon while being in London and together discover these new environments — while being in London. We want to show kids that they are able to reach different countries, continents and worlds with the power of their intelligence, combined with engineering skills.

The games are available for download for free, for everyone, because we believe that teenagers shouldn’t have to pay to get access to technology. It is crucial to make education and new technologies easy available for them in order to spark their creativity and passion for new innovations.

Presenting the Red Planet Project at re;publica 2019 in Berlin, together with Porsche

As our partner, Porsche supports the idea of giving access to the newest tech and believes in the promising impact of technology on young people all over the world. To spread the word, Porsche invited us to join them at re;publica 2019 in Berlin, where we showcased the Red Planet Project and had the chance to bring our mission closer to the young German digital scene.

Proof of concept: Teenagers are the engineers of our future

We know from history that teenagers always have been and always will be our future engineers, especially when it comes to the development and usage of new technologies. Our partner Porsche knows this quite well: There once was a young guy who worked as a mechanic in an engineering company at the end of the 19th century. At the age of 17, he had access to the newest technology of that time — and a progressive idea in mind. He makes his way very fast to the manager of the testing department in an electricity company to then engineer an electrical hub motor at the age of 21, followed by the first ever hybrid and all-wheel vehicle ever just three years later, in 1899. This is the story of the young Ferdinand Porsche. Without him getting access to technology at an early age, he would neither have been inspired nor have had the possibility to realize his vision — to build the first car in the world.

Ferry Porsche, 1954, Photo: Porsche AG

Now think of Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Marc Zuckerberg and other great innovators. The greatest achievements of successful technology companies do mostly not rest upon well-educated middle-aged managers, but young teenagers that understand the potential of new technologies. And there’s only one thing that’s required: access to modern technologies and related knowledge and education.

We at Robonetica want to provide that. We have committed us to the mission of making technologies and knowledge available to teenagers around the world for free.

Jacek Mikus, CEO of Robonetica

A guest contribution by Jacek Mikus, CEO of Robonetica. Follow us on Twitter (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital), Instagram (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital) and LinkedIn (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital) for more. Find our recap blogpost of re;publica 2019 here.

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