Aerospace robots

Danielle Wood named as principal investigator (PI) for Zero Robotics – MIT Media Lab

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In the program’s first decade, Zero Robotics tournaments helped almost 20,000 students from 30 US states and 18 countries learn to code on the SPHERES platform, providing opportunities to contribute to real ISS missions and work with mentors to design, implement, and operate robots. This has enabled Zero Robotics to act as a bridge between students and leaders in the space industry—scientists, engineers, and other professionals at the forefront of science and engineering—and inspire students to become leaders and mentors themselves. 

While the SPHERES program retired from the ISS in 2019, Dr. Wood is working with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space to access NASA’s new Astrobee robotic system. She has also won two grants from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space to work with its technology development and educational programs. Dr. Wood has also collaborated with the Navajo Technical University in New Mexico and California State University, Long Beach to secure a $1.18 million grant from NASA. This grant was awarded for a three-year collaboration to increase participation of Native and Hispanic students in STEM education, including Zero Robotics.

With this new funding, the Zero Robotics program will fully restart under Dr. Wood’s leadership in 2022. In preparation, MIT and the Aerospace Corporation collaborated to host a session of the Zero Robotics program this past summer. 

We’re also excited to announce that the Media Lab will host the Boston premiere of Zero Gravity, as part of the 2021 Boston Film Festival. A documentary by filmmaker Thomas Verrette, the film follows a cohort of students from Campbell Middle School, near San Jose, California, as they compete in the 2017 Zero Robotics tournament. 

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