Science

NASA's New Flying Robot Gets Its First Hardware Check in Space

NASA's New Flying Robot Gets Its First Hardware Check in Space”

The system includes three robots as well as a docking station for recharging.

Bumble has two friends, adorably named Honey and Queen, and the trio were sent up into space aboard a April 17 launch from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Robots on Earth rely on wheels, treads, or legs to get around, but none of those are any good in space.

NASA's new free-flying robotic system, Astrobee, which is created to help astronauts reduce the time they spend on routine duties, has undergone its first hardware tests on the International Space Station. Actually, having a small robot designed specifically for operation aboard the station could make some of those menial tasks more efficient.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain was responsible for checking out the status of the Astrobees, and you can see her tending to one of the robots called Bumble in the photo above.

All three robots are modular, can be upgraded as the need arises and will most likely prove to be an essential piece of hardware and software for any future space station or colony we might end up building on the Moon, Mars and beyond.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain performed the first series of tests on Bumble during a hardware checkout recently, that took a closer look at its avionics, cameras, propulsion and docking for power and data transfer. Astrobee will be used to test how robots can assist crew and perform caretaking duties on spacecraft.

NASA's new robot is getting ready for work.

The robots feature cameras, microphones, and other sensors to help operators on the ground to monitor conditions.

The system will take some time until it is completed, and more tests will be conducted before the full launch of the robots later this spring. Researchers are also planning more complex experiments, including carrying payloads, which will begin in 2020.



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