Zero Robotics is an annual robot programming competition run by MIT that inspires students to test their engineering and leadership skills. Every year a unique game is released and teams of high school students have a fixed period of time to write a program that competes against opposing teams. Programs are fully autonomous and are designed to control virtual satellites, called SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites), in simulation environments. The highlight of the competition comes in the final rounds, where the game is played with live satellites aboard the International Space Station.
This year's game is called SpaceSpheres. The primary objective is to pick up stationary objects (Satellite Items) and deliver them to your scoring zone (Assembly Zone). The challenge of the game is that items are limited and all are subject to being picked up and moved by both satellites. Teams must develop code that can decide which items to target and perform the motion and rotation necessary to pick up and move those items.
We are a second-year Zero Robotics team that seeks to encourage software, critical thinking, leadership, and gracious professionalism within its members. Our Zero team is comprised of members from multiple Paly Robotics subteams as well as members exclusive to Zero. We use our experience from algorithms we write in FIRST to improve our Zero code, including specialized vPID satellite control. This year, in the 3D Round, we placed 30th, qualifying us for the Alliance round. We are excited to partner with teams from the around the world and hope to make it back to the ISS.
We had a great 2015 season, ending as the Virtual World Champions. We placed 57th in the 3D round and teamed up with ZiRconiuM from Rome, Italy and SpaceEagles from El Segundo, CA. After failing to qualify to the Championship round, we revamped our code and strategy, and moved up to first place on the Virtual Leaderboard. We travelled to MIT in January and competed as an alliance against Space::Yabadabad0rs! and won our match. We later visited the Space Systems Laboratory at MIT and got to see Atlas, MIT’s DARPA challenge robot. To learn more about last year’s competition check out the game manual here or view the results here
Paly Zero offers a unique set of skills and opportunities to members of our alliance. Being a FIRST Robotics team we have extensive experience in autonomous control as well as optimized motion. This year we coded an open loop control system on our FIRST Robot that dynamically adjusted motor voltage to minimize the change in acceleration over time, which reduced jerky motion. We also have a strong strategic base that can scout opposing alliances and determine strategies to counter and adapt to their behavior. Finally we are open to communication and will be nearly always be available to speak through email, phone, or video conference. To contact Paly Zero, email Zero captain Jonathan Zwiebel at jonathanzwiebel [at] gmail [dot] com.