Lab Spotlight

KSC Swamp Works’ Swarmies

NASA KSC swarmies

In the Swarmathon competition at NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC), students developed computer code for “Swarmies”—small robotic vehicles equipped with sensors, a webcam, GPS system, and Wi-Fi antenna—programming them to look for "resources" in the form of small barcode squares on the surface of each vehicle. Teams developed search algorithms for the Swarmies to operate autonomously, communicating and interacting as a collective swarm similar to ants foraging for food.

In the Center's first annual Swarmathon, students from 12 colleges and universities across the nation were invited to develop software code to program these innovative robots to identify resources when astronauts visit distant planets, such as Mars. 

Kennedy Space Center’s Swamp Works is a hands-on, lean development environment for innovation. Current capabilities consist of both facilities and world-class expertise spanning the Science and Technology Projects Division at KSC, including applied physics, applied chemistry, granular mechanics and regolith operations, cryogenics, electrostatics and surface physics, regolith activities testing, and for robotics integration, checkout and assembly, corrosion technology, and advanced materials and polymer science.

To learn more about Kennedy Space Center’s Swamp Works, visit

Lab Spotlight