Danielle Wood named Principal Investigator (PI) for Zero Robotics – MIT Media Lab


During the program’s first decade, the Zero Robotics Tournaments have helped nearly 20,000 students from 30 U.S. states and 18 countries learn to code on the SPHERE platform, providing opportunities to contribute to real ISS missions and to 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 to inspire students to become themselves leaders and mentors.

As 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 the new Astrobee robotic system. She also won two scholarships from Center for the Advancement of Science in Space to work with its technological development and education programs. Dr Wood has also collaborated with the Navajo Technical University in New Mexico and California State University, Long Beach to secure a Grant of $ 1.18 million from NASA. This grant was awarded for a three-year collaboration to increase the participation of Indigenous 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 have collaborated to host a session of the Zero Robotics program last summer.

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


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