Advisory Board

Dr. Andrew “Zoz” Brooks

Hailing from Australia, Andrew “Zoz” Brooks, Ph.D. came to the United States to pursue graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He became “Dr. Zoz” after receiving a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science based on research into human-robot communication in the Robotic Life group at MIT’s Media Laboratory.
During this work he was fortunate — or bold — enough to communicate with robots ranging from expressive humanoid bots, at MIT and in Japan, to a space robot at NASA, to an alien-looking tentacle robot. His research interests still include many forms of human-machine interaction, and he continues to participate in major international conferences on robotics, automation, computer entertainment and electronic art.
Following in the footsteps of old-school artist-engineers, Zoz likes to blend invention and art. While attending MIT, he created a line of self-empowering prototypes with improbable German names, including FUNKENSCHNORKEL (a backpack broadcast device that allows the wearer to take control of the local audio environment) and SCHALLFAUST and LUFTWERFER (two large “toy weapons for adults” that co-opt beverage containers and compressed and liquefied gases to provide harmless pyrotechnic-style explosions for all occasions). His belief in the synthesis of function, aesthetics and explosion resistance has a philanthropic element, too — while at MIT he worked on prototyping and blast-testing tools to improve the safety of humanitarian land-mine removal.
His other interests span far and wide. A passionate traveler and explorer, he’s visited countries across the globe, from Argentina to Zimbabwe, climbed famous mountains such as Kilimanjaro and Fuji and journeyed along the ancient Silk Road in Central Asia. Alongside his computer hacker roots goes a love for old-style media such as film, radio and print. When he’s coding or building, you’ll usually hear heavy metal blasting.
A pyrotechnics enthusiast from a young age, Zoz is also a long-time member of the Pyrotechnics Guild International.
He is a great believer in the power of education. Before leaving Australia to pursue his graduate robotics degrees, he earned a diploma in education to “do my small part to get our countries back on track as being ‘clever countries’ where our education and know-how is recognized as one of our great strengths.” Indeed, one of his big reasons for being on Prototype This is “to get kids interested in science and engineering by showing them that it’s cool and fun and useful.”
Zoz coauthored Working with Robots and Objects: Revisiting Deictic Reference for Achieving Spatial Common Ground, A high-performance camera platform for real-time active vision, Using perspective taking to learn from ambiguous demonstrations, Behavioral Overlays for Non-Verbal Communication Expression on a Humanoid Robot, Humanoid robots as cooperative partners for people, Robot’s Play: Interactive Games With Sociable Machines, and Action parsing and goal inference using self as simulator.
Watch Prototype This: Zoz Brooks – Dr. Robot. Read Hackophilia 2.0: Why I cohost a TV show that brings the joy of engineering to the masses.
Zoz earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 2007 with the thesis Coordinating Human-Robot Communication. He earned his M.Sc. from Australian National University in 2000, his Dip.Ed. from the University of Adelaide in 1995, and his B.Sc. (Hons) from the University of Adelaide in 1994.