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NASA crowdsources design ideas for its new ISS-bound robot

by • January 18, 2016 • 18s Comments

Since arriving in 2006, NASA’s SPHERES robots have roamed the International Space Station (ISS) assisting in microgravity research by serving as engineering and robotic testbeds. Now it is time for an upgrade. As NASA prepares to commence SPHERES’ successor, a free-flying cube-shaped robot known as Astrobee, it is crowdsourcing create concepts for one of new machine’s additional noteworthy showcases, a robotic arm to be utilized for perching and interacting with objects.

Set to commence upcoming year, Astrobee is a tiny, cubed robot measuring one foot (30.5 cm) along every side. NASA imagines that it can create on the value of the SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Re-orient, Experimental Satellites) robots largely due to a greater degree of autonomy. With the competence to carry out research and monitoring duties without supervision, the agency says it can open up new opportunities to test emerging technologies in microgravity, while in addition reducing the risks to astronauts.

One example stated by NASA is the exploration of magnetic propulsion, that astronauts in fact tested aboard the ISS in 2013. This experimental innovation may one day be utilized to manufacture spacecraft formation flying additional practical, via magnetic fields to group together satellites in a tight pattern to form giant space telescopes, for example. NASA says scientists can be able-bodied to add magnetic propulsion modules to Astrobee to test various control approaches, without the risk of losing costly satellites in space.

And by bringing on the additional mundane chores aboard the ISS, Astrobee can in addition free up astronauts’ time for additional serious tasks. It can be capable-bodied of monitoring air high end, sound levels and relaying the sounds and sights of the station to flight controllers through its onboard microphone and camera. And fitted with an RFID scanner, it can in addition be able-bodied to roam around monitoring the location of the tens and thousands of tools and parts, saving the astronauts the trouble of doing this by hand.

One of the main upgrades to the ISS’ new robotic resident can be a tiny and lightweight arm, enabling it to physically interact with its environment. Whilst NASA has its own creates for the attachment, it is in addition putting the call out for alternative ideas by tapping into the Freelancer.com community, a freelancing marketplace with additional than 17 million participants.

The competition began on January 14 with a registration process. At the time of writing there has been additional than 1,400 submissions, with NASA to some day whittle this down to 30. The agency can and so ask those 30 entrants to break down the process architecture of their creates. By drawing on these finely detailed concepts, NASA hopes to wind up with complementary or enhanced capabilities for Astrobee’s robotic arm.

Source: Freelancer.com

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