NASA's Centennial Challenges program hosted the first day of a three-day competition Wednesday, where teams of citizen inventors, small businesses and universities from the U.S., Estonia and Canada set autonomous robots free to retrieve geological samples from a park in Massachusetts. Robot contestants are required to retrieve a range of samples that vary in shape and size, with prizes ranging from $100,000 to $1.5 million. "Improving this technology will be a huge boon, not just to NASA and space exploration, but also for countless applications here on Earth," said Centennial Challenges program manager Sam Ortega.

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