Afghanistan’s All-Girl Robotics Team Wins A Second Major Award At Robotex

Afghanistan’s Girl Robotics Team just won the Entrepreneur Challenge at Europe’s largest robotics festival, the Robotex festival in Tallinn, Estonia.

At Robotex, the team faced off against 3700 other competitors and 1600 robots in a series of competitions, including robot basketball games, races, and mazes. The Entrepreneurial Challenge, in its inaugural year at the competition, requires competitors to build a robot, design marketing flyers, and present a sales pitch to a team of judges. The winning robot, presented by three members of the Afghan team, used solar energy to work on small-scale farms, the New York Times reported.

“Entrepreneurial Challenge is a brand new competition at Robotex, in which people have to present their innovative, working robotic product, solving a real world problem that customers would want to buy,” says the Robotex website. “The goal is to get the most upvotes from the visitors of Robotex, and win money.” (It’s not clear how much prize money is connected to the award.)

And that’s not the first international robotics award the twelve girls from Herat have bagged. In July, they took home a silver medal for courage in the FIRST Global Challenge in Washington, D.C. For any group of teenagers, those would be an impressive set of achievements, but these six girls come from a country where two-thirds of girls never make it to school at all, according to Human Rights Watch.

Their country is still an active conflict zone, and the team had to spend more than three months navigating security checks just to get their parts kit for the FIRST competition. Their competitors spend that time designing and building, but by the time the Afghan team received its box of wheels, gears, and radio controls, they had just two weeks to assemble a working robot. And they pulled it off, using recycled materials including a Coca-Cola bottle.

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