AI News, Zero Robotics Competition gives High School Students Control of Space Robots

Zero Robotics Competition gives High School Students Control of Space Robots

The Zero Robotics competition, hosted by NASA and DARPA in cooperation with MIT, Aurora Flight Sciences, and TopCoder, tasks teams of high school students with programming one of those cute little SPHERES microgravity satellite robots to autonomously complete a 'technically challenging' three dimensional race against another robot programmed by another team.

Once the teams have tested their code out in simulation and physically in two dimensions (using robots at MIT), a full 3D simulation tournament will be held, and the top 27 teams from that event will watch live via webcast as the real SPHERES robots execute their code on board the International Space Station in December of this year.

As part of a competition, students write algorithms for the SPHERES satellites to accomplish tasks relevant to future space missions.

The algorithms are tested by the SPHERES team and the best designs are selected for the competition to operate the SPHERES satellites on board the ISS.

High school students write algorithms for free-flying robotic satellites to accomplish specific tasks, and the best designs were selected to operate the satellites on the space station.

In 2010, 24 teams selected from a pool of 48 applicants participated in the inaugural competition, and in 2011, more than 100 teams began the competition, then formed alliances of three teams each with the top nine alliances competing in the finals.

In 2010, crowdsourcing was used to develop the spacecraft software framework used by the students during the challenge, which increased its quality.

Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites-Zero-Robotics (SPHERES-Zero-Robotics) opens up the International Space Station (ISS) for use by high school students, providing them the opportunity to act as ground controllers for research in space utilizing the SPHERES satellites.

High school students program the SPHERES satellites as part of a competition to design algorithms for a predetermined objective.

Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites-Zero-Robotics (SPHERES-Zero-Robotics) provides dozens of high school students access to the microgravity environment for experimentation and analysis.

Through the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) program, the next generation of scientists and engineers are inspired to push the limits of space exploration and engineering.

SPHERES-Zero-Robotics develops and builds critical engineering skills for students including: problem solving, design thought process, operations training, teamwork and presentation skills.

The SPHERES-Zero-Robotics program provides high school students the opportunity to develop algorithms for SPHERES currently on board the International Space Station (ISS).

During all phases, the students are challenged not only with programming, but also with the development of documentation and presentations to add to their engineering and communication skills.

In all cases, the students have to learn and practice successful teamwork skills as there are minimum team size requirements.

Students clearly outline the motivation, the science behind their algorithm, project implementation, and data they expect to collect to show it worked properly.

This phase teaches students the basics of writing a proposal and also serves as a registration step.

This step verifies successful algorithm implementation prior to hardware testing, and allows for a baseline performance expectation.

If the number of teams participating is greater than can be accommodated in flight, this step is used as an elimination round.

Ground Demonstrations: Selected teams from the 2D simulation competition translate their algorithms from simulation to hardware, accounting for computation and communication limitations.

Teams that demonstrate correctly operating simulations have their code tested at the MIT flat floor facility in Cambridge, MA.

All teams can compare the videos and the simulations, but only the teams that competed can see the source code that was run.

This step includes at least one ISS test session, with live feed of the crew executing the tests.

calls out three levels of interaction for students involved with NASA activities: exposure, engage, and educate.

Starting at the high school age group, students view working in space as "normal", with the expectation that they become inspired to push the limits of space exploration, engineering, and development.

even those who do not wish to pursue space careers see their lives affected by knowing their work can have an impact beyond the classroom.

The ability of the students to participate in real engineering activities, beginning in high school, potentially encourages them to remain interested in those fields.

SPHERES-Zero-Robotics also builds critical engineering skills for students such as problem solving, design thought process, operations training, teamwork, and presentation skills.

The laptop is used to send the algorithms and commands to the satellites, and receive data and status reports from the satellites.

During free-flying operations, the satellites perform various maneuvers with one to three satellites operating simultaneously.

Zero Robotics SPHERES Challenge 2010: HelioSPHERES saw 24 teams selected from a pool of 48 applicants to participate in the inaugural competition.

Team Ganymede from Friendswood High School, Texas, also received special mention for leading the competition until the finals and setting the path for exemplary strategies.

The impact of crowdsourcing, the process of outsourcing a task to an outside group of people, was also investigated in conjunction with the SPHERES Zero Robotics Challenge 2011.

Results showed that crowdsourcing under TopCoder’s infrastructure increased the quality of solutions for the software framework, however with excess management overhead (Nag 2012 thesis).

The games that the students were required to solve during the tournament were also aimed at supporting controlled spaceflight algorithm development.

SPHERES Zero Robotics software development: Lessons on crowdsourcing and collaborative competition.

On Dec. 9, 2009, the Zero Robotics pilot teams observed the demonstration of their code running on the SPHERES robots aboard the space station.

The world's first robotics competition in space!

The goal is to build critical engineering skills for students, such as problem solving, design thought process, operations training, and team work.

The finals take place simultaneously at MIT, at an ESA site in Europe, at the University of Sydney in Australia and are also webcast live to all participants so that remote viewing is possible.

They may use a graphical block diagram editor or a C editor to write code, then simulate their program immediately and see the results in a flash animation.

The simulation also enables teams to compete against themselves or pre-coded standard players and challenge other teams informally;

As part of a competition, students design software to control the satellites and complete game objectives.

After several phases of Earth-based competition, finalists’ software designs are selected to compete in a live championship aboard the ISS supervised by space station crew members.

High school students write algorithms for free-flying robotic satellites to accomplish specific tasks, and the best designs are selected to operate the satellites on the space station.

In 2010, 24 teams selected from a pool of 48 applicants participated in the inaugural competition, and in 2011, more than 100 teams began the competition, then formed alliances of three teams each with the top nine alliances competing in the finals.

In 2010, crowdsourcing was used to develop the spacecraft software framework used by the students during the challenge, which increased its quality.

In 2014 the competition became truly international with alliances formed of three teams with at least one team from a different continent.

Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites-Zero-Robotics-High School Tournament (SPHERES-Zero-Robotics-High School Tournament) opens up the International Space Station (ISS) for use by high school students, providing them the opportunity to act as ground controllers for research in space utilizing the SPHERES satellites.

High school students program the SPHERES satellites as part of separate competitions to design algorithms for a predetermined objective.

Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites-Zero-Robotics-High School Tournament (SPHERES-Zero-Robotics-High School Tournament) provides dozens of high school students access to the microgravity environment for experimentation and analysis.

SPHERES-Zero-Robotics develops and builds critical engineering skills for students including: problem solving, design thought process, operations training, teamwork, and presentation skills.

During all phases, the students are challenged not only with programming, but also with the development of documentation and presentations to add to their engineering and communication skills.

In all cases, the students have to learn and practice successful teamwork skills as there are minimum team size requirements.

Proposal Submission: Teams outline their plans for the competition, specifically addressing team skills, team organization, importance of programming, and familiarity with SPHERES satellites.

This step verifies successful algorithm implementation prior to hardware testing, and allows for a baseline performance expectation.

SPHERES-Zero-Robotics-High School Tournament builds critical engineering skills, including problem solving, the design thought process, operations training, and teamwork.

It connects students with prominent scientists and encourages them to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and/or math (STEM).

Student participants develop valuable writing and programming skills as they draft proposals and develop and test software, which all leads into their competing to win a technically challenging game by programming their strategies into the SPHERES.

The students must solve problems determined by NASA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, including docking, assembly and formation flight, and their solutions may be relevant to future space missions using small autonomous satellites.

If the number of teams participating is greater than can be accommodated in flight, the 3D simulation competition is used as the first elimination round.

The final standings were as follows: •1st - LCA Team ZeroBotX, Lexington Christian Academy, MA •2nd - Delta Falmouth, Falmouth High School, ME •3rd - SuperNOVA, Prince William County School System, VA •4th - A-Team, Cyprus High School, UT •5th - Ganymede, Friendswood High School, TX •5th - Glenbrook North, Glenbrook North High School, IL •5th - USC SCALE, Upper St. Clair School District, PA •5th - Stuy-Naught, Stuyvesant High School, NY •9th - BACON, Charlottesville High School, VA •9th - Team Vector, Naples High School, FL

The impact of crowdsourcing, the process of outsourcing a task to an outside group of people, was also investigated in conjunction with the SPHERES Zero Robotics Challenge 2010.

RetroSPHERES ISS finals were held on January 11, 2013 involving over 200 High School students from around the world and refereed by crew members Kevin Ford and Thomas Marshburn.

The top 9 US alliances (a total of 27 US teams) and the top 6 ESA alliances (a total of 18 ESA teams) reached the finals aboard the ISS.

The top 9 US alliances (a total of 27 US teams) and the top 6 ESA alliances (a total of 18 ESA teams) reached the finals aboard the ISS.

Game premise: Recycle defunct satellite parts in LEO and spy on opponents while managing use of solar energy during light and eclipse periods.

The International ISS co-champions were from two different alliances including the following teams: •1st- Crab Nebula, Liceo Cecioni, Italy •1st- MV Zero, Monta Vista High School, CA, USA •1st- VADARS, South Charleston High School, WV, USA •1st- The Fermi Floating Team, Liceo Scientifico Statale "E.Fermi", Italy •1st- Tachyons, Saratoga High School, CA, USA •1st- Juggler, I.I.S.G.B.Vaccarini Catania, Italy.

On Dec. 9, 2009, the Zero Robotics pilot teams observed the demonstration of their code running on the SPHERES robots aboard the space station.

Zero Robotics High School Tournament 2017

The goal is to build critical engineering skills for students, such as problem solving, design thought process, operations training, and team work.

They may use a graphical block diagram editor or a C editor to write code, then simulate their program immediately and see the results in a flash animation.

The Zero Robotics High School Tournament consists of five main stages: The contest begins with several simulation competitions held online at the Zero Robotics website that gradually increase in difficulty.

Any accredited high-school (grades 9-12), Upper Secondary, or equivalent grade-school / pre-college level program, including home-schooling, in the USA, Russia, ESA member states and Australia can register a team of students;

The primary mentor will be responsible for supervision and guidance of the team and to ensure the team has access to at least two computers with internet access (including access to a modern internet browser [preferably Chrome or Firefox] with JavaScript and Flash enabled).

In the case that multiple teams are approved in a single school/organization, then (i) each team must have at least 12 students (ii) the teams must work independently of each other (iii) the teams may not be part of the same alliance (iv) teams may not exchange students at any point during the tournament.

In order to provide new teams with sufficient time to learn how to use Zero Robotics, the 2D Phase (throughout September) will be a practice run that does not count towards competitive elimination.

Key dates: By participating in the Tournament, each participant agrees that under no circumstances, including, but not limited to, negligence, shall MIT, its partners, or the Sponsors, or their respective officers, directors, employees, shareholders, agents, successors, and assigns (the 'Released Parties') be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, or consequential damages arising out participation in the Tournament, even if any or all of the Released Parties have been advised of the possibility of such damages.

As a condition of participation, all participants and teams grant to MIT, and the Sponsors a perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce and publish any and all Submissions and to permit MIT, the Sponsors, and other third parties (including without limitation participants’ teammates, and other teams) to copy, modify, prepare derivative works of, make and use their Submissions.