SAN JOSE, Calif., April 6, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- They've done it again! For the second time, a group of junior high and high school students at Valley Christian Schools (VCS) made history today by advancing to the semi-final round of the $10M ANA Avatar XPRIZE challenge. This is on the heels of their classmates' landmark XPRIZE achievement when VCS Team Ocean Quest became the youngest team ever to compete in a semi-final round of the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE and eventually won the NOAA Bonus prize round.
Yet for VCS, conquering the oceans wasn't enough. They've set their sights on a new challenge - going virtual to create an avatar system that can transport a human presence to a remote location in real-time. Avatars can be used in numerous scenarios, such as providing care, disaster relief, and multi-purpose utilities such as rare trade skills for critical maintenance or repairs.
"The competition couldn't be more timely," stated student leader Alex Lopes, "We're building a telepresence robot in an era where everyone is existing in telepresence. There's a new culture of doing everything from home because you can, because it's a lot safer and sometimes more effective. That's the kind of living we want to enable with the technology we're developing."
The road to the semi-finals has been fraught with obstacles for Team Avatar Quest. As the last team to register for the challenge, they were almost a full year behind their competitors, which includes an elite group of corporations, research institutions, and universities from around the world.
"I love being in the position of the underdog, but then you throw in the pandemic, distance learning, and county Covid-19 restrictions, where we weren't allowed to meet on the school campus until close to the submission deadline - I'm just thrilled that the students produced a prototype of this caliber," explained Danny Kim, VCS Vice President and Director of the school's STEM Program, the AMSE Institute." It's a true testament to the knowledge and passion of these kids and how they've been inspired by this competition."
Selected as one of 38 semi-finalists out of 76 teams who entered the competition, VCS Team Avatar Quest will compete alongside teams from 16 countries in Miami, Florida this coming September. The winning team will have the opportunity to integrate multiple emerging technologies to develop a physical, non-autonomous Avatar System with which an operator can see, hear, and interact within a remote environment in a manner that feels as if they are truly there.
As for the students of VCS, the ambition doesn't stop there - a third VCS team is already working to advance our understanding of the rainforest ecosystem in preparation for the $10M XPRIZE Rainforest. After that, there's no telling which frontier the students will conquer next.
VALLEY CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS
Valley Christian Schools (VCS) is a private, K-12 Christian school located in the heart of Silicon Valley in San Jose, California. VCS provides rigorous, college-preparatory programs while challenging students toward lives of character, service, and influence in their individual Quest for Excellence™.
XPRIZE is a global future-positive movement of over 1M people and rising, delivering truly radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. XPRIZE inspires and empowers a global community of problem-solvers to positively impact our world by crowdsourcing solutions through large-scale competitions, tackling the world's grandest challenges in exploration, environment and human equity. Active competitions include the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, $10M XPRIZE Rainforest, $15M XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion, $10M ANA Avatar XPRIZE, $6M XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing, $5M IBM Watson AI Prize, $5M XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling, $1M Next-Gen Mask Challenge and $500,000 Pandemic Response Challenge. Donate, sign up or join a team at xprize.org.