14 August 2015 | Johnson Space Center
World’s First Robotics Competition in Space, Zero Robotics Competition organized the final at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) on Friday, August 14, 2015. It was a national robotic competition of US teams only. 12 States team across the US participated in this event. Team Malden YMCA secured first place in the final competition. The competition took around 2 Hrs 40 min to get the winner of Zero Robotics Competition 2015.
Current Expedition 44 crew members Scott Kelly of NASA, Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) conducted the competition aboard the station. Teams operated the SPHERES in space and saw it via a live feed from the ISS while NASA astronauts provided real-time commentary.
What was the Challenge?
The task was to write algorithms for the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, and Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) to accomplish tasks in International Space Station (ISS) relevant to future space missions.
Zero Robotics Competition Objective:
The participants compete to win a technically challenging game by programming their strategies into the SPHERES satellites. The game is motivated by a current problem of interest to DARPA, NASA and MIT. Student software controls satellite speed, rotation, direction of travel, etc. Depending on the game premise, the students must program their satellites to complete game objectives (navigate obstacles, pick up virtual objects, etc.) while conserving resources (fuel, charge, etc.) and staying within specified time and code-size limits. The programs are “autonomous” – that is, the students cannot control the satellites during the test itself.
Inspired by a floating droid battling Luke Skywalker in the film Star Wars, the free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) have been flying aboard the International Space Station (ISS) since Expedition 8 in 2003. SPHERES provide a unique low-risk, low-cost, long-term microgravity research facility that supports quick-reaction testing of technologies that can be repeated numerous times. Powered not by an astronaut’s use of “The Force,” but by AA batteries and compressed CO2, the satellites act as free-flying platforms that can accommodate various mounting features and mechanisms in order to test and examine the physical or mechanical properties of materials in microgravity. Each satellite is an 18-sided polyhedron and is roughly the size of volleyball.
- Explore further: Zero Robotics Competition: See which Team’s Algorithms run the Robotic Satellite, SPHERES in ISS
- Image: NASA/ISS