Autonomous Robots Assist Astronauts on International Space Station

The free-flying robots are being tested for their capabilities to assist astronauts with everyday tasks

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

June 14, 2022

1 Min Read
Image shows the Astrobees robots onboard International Space Station

Astronauts onboard the International Space Station have successfully tested the autonomous navigation and maneuvering features of a pair of free-flying robots, known as Astrobees. 

The cube-shaped bots can be fitted with robotic arms and are powered by fans and vision-based navigation, autonomously navigating their way around the station and transmitting video data back to scientists on the ground to enable real-time monitoring and connection. 

Researchers are currently testing out Astrobee as a robotic assistant to astronauts, helping complete everyday chores such as crew monitoring, sampling and logistics management. They are also being used to research and trial computer vision, robotic manipulation, control algorithms and human-robot Interaction, as well as free-flying robotic technology in microgravity.

The Astrobee bots were first launched in the International Space Station three years ago and were initially used as part of NASA’s Artemis mission to deliver humans back to the moon. Since then, the assistants have demonstrated efficacy in detecting anomalies on the station and assisting in experiments, with the new research looking to further improve station efficiency by relieving crew members of mundane chores and leaving them free to handle more complex tasks. 

Connected devices have always been seen as a natural accompaniment to human crew members, and trials of additional tech are similarly underway. One example is from the European Space Agency (ESA), which has deployed a health and safety wearable to astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. This smart-shirt is fitted with sensors that monitor a crew member’s cardiovascular system, wirelessly transmitting the data back to base operations.

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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