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Swarm rovable robotics for servicing lunar Gateway




MAS: Media Arts and Sciences

Faculty Supervisor:

Joe Paradiso

Faculty email:


Apply by:

Dec 3


Fangzheng Liu: fzliu@mit.edu

Project Description

Future in-space operations—across LEO (Low earth Orbit), lunar missions, and out to Mars—will heavily leverage robotics and autonomy to increase systems performance, reduce risk to human crews, and contribute to mission success. Building on our team’s prior work in miniaturized robot locomotion and inspection on uneven surfaces, adaptive climbing robots, and autonomous self-assembly of modular robotic parts in microgravity, we are developing a suite of autonomous robotic swarms for spacecraft external servicing in lunar orbit. We focus our initial work on controllable microgravity mobility. Our test objectives are two-fold: our autonomous, swarm robotics platform will test a) two different types of locomotion, tuned to the nature of different surfaces that may be encountered in lunar orbit and related environments and b) a coordinated communication protocol across two collaborating robot populations to demonstrate joint inspection sensing for assembly and manufacturing applications. The robot prototypes will be deployed across both microgravity and lunar gravity parabolas. Additionally, we will address how the robotic prototypes contribute to “expanded capabilities for exploration and discovery on the lunar surface; this includes technologies to support robotic and human surface operations, including communication architectures and autonomous operations.” The UROP will be responsible for helping with the robotics' developement and tests. The rovable robotics is a extendable platform, so the UROP is encouraged to explore more possible sensing missions. The UROP will also have chances to participate in the robotics hardware/software development. We are seeking a UROP student who is interested in space exploration with a strong background in electrical engineering. UROPs will also be able to join weekly 30min discussions on Friday afternoon from 3:00 to 3:30.


Autonomous and motivated students (seniors or experienced juniors) with a strong focus on electrical engineering. Students from EECS/Aerospace are preferred, but this is not mandatory. The UROP should be familiar with Altum Designer and Embeded programming. Students who is familiar with 3D modeling in Solidworks is prefered.