In 2006, the NASA space agency sent SPHERES robots to the International Space Station to conduct various studies. The project was successful, so the researchers continued to send such assistants – in 2018 a CIMON robot arrived on the ISS, and at the end of April 2019 two Astrobee robots would arrive to help astronauts. According to representatives of NASA, they will be engaged in the implementation of routine tasks so that the crew members will have more time for other tasks.
Bee-robots were developed at the Ames Research Center in California. They are small boxes equipped with a set of cameras and sensors for navigation, tracking the crew, sampling and other tasks. They are also equipped with a touch screen, speakers, microphone and mechanical arm to interact with objects.
The devices are able to fly in zero gravity and are powered by battery power. The charge, of course, is not infinite – when it dries out, the robot independently flies to the nearest docking station to replenish the charge.
With the help of tens of thousands of tools, Astrobee can perform an item location check. Robots can also monitor environmental conditions, such as air quality or sound levels, freeing up the time of astronauts and maintaining their health.
Due to the presence of cameras and microphones, dispatchers on Earth will be able to monitor the situation at the Space Station, controlling the robots through the remote control. In addition to simple inspection, remote operators can even conduct research.
Our @Space_Station crew is gaining 3 robotic helpers – Astrobees! C These cube-shaped robots will stay busy flying around the orbital lab assisting our astronauts more time for science. But how will they do it? See for yourself: https://t.co/ghyiMwrWZ8pic.twitter.com/qwwk5wljeH
– NASA (@NASA) April 3, 2019
NASA researchers want to actually see how people and robots will interact in an isolated space for a long time. At the same time, the crew of the ISS and the "bees" will be in close proximity to each other – it is important to follow this, because in future such robots can be used in future missions to study the Moon and other planets.
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