ROCKVILLE, Md. - A team of student engineers and computer programmers from Montgomery College are currently on their way to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the 2018 NASA Swarmathon competition.
These 23 students spent a whole year in preparation, much of it recorded by documentarian Sunshine Yang.
Now, they say they're ready to take on 40 other teams at this year's Swarmathon but it's not easy.
"There are people who are working on nothing but the algorithm that we use to collect the rovers,” said Charles Varga. “There are people who are working on iodometry. There are people like me who are working on the outreach. There are people who are writing the technical reports and the outreach reports."
All those moving parts must come together and make these little robots work to complete a much bigger mission.
"These miniature swarm rovers will eventually be used in the future to colonize mars,” said Varga.
In competition, the robots collect these cubes, but in actual outer space, they'll operate much differently.
"When they get to work on Mars, they’ll collect rocks, water and all kinds of materials,” said Maksim Eren.
The tough part is getting all of the rovers to move at once as their not individually controlled but reacting to a pre-set coding program built by the team.
The competition will last for two days with the team returning on Thursday, hopefully bringing with them the grand prize which includes $5,000.