Sent on April 17 of this year on boardTo the International Space Station, the compact flying robots-cubes of the Astrobee project have begun to pass their flight tests under microgravity conditions. According to NASA aerospace agency, the debut flight of the “Bumble” robot in zero gravity took place on June 14, 2019. The agency reminds that the second robot named “Honey” is also on board, and the third, Queen, is expected to arrive on the ISS in July this year.
The main task of this system is from a complex of robots.will be to test their work aboard aboard the ISS, but in the future, NASA is considering using such robots to perform daily routine tasks, which will free the crew of the ISS from simple but frequent actions. In addition, these machines can be very useful during missions to deep space - the Moon and Mars. Hence, by the way, the name of the project Astrobee - "Astropchely".
April 30, 2019 Ann McClein astronaut NASAI unpacked the box with the “Bumble” robot and, with the support of the NASA Astrobee development team, inspected all the auxiliary systems of the robot - avionics, video cameras, the propulsion system, as well as data transmission and charging of its batteries.
In the middle of June, under the conditions of microgravity, the first flight tests of the “Bumble” robot passed on board the International Space Agency. The video can be viewed below.
Technical features of the Astrobee project robots
Developed robots experts NASA Ames Research Center. The technical characteristics of the compact robot assistants are as follows:
- The size of each robot is 30x30x30 centimeters;
- The outer skin of the case is covered with soft material. It minimizes possible damage if the robot strikes any object or element onboard the ISS;
- Robots are very versatile. Each is equipped with a system for gripping and fixing objects with a folding manipulator, which will allow to capture and move objects from one end of the station to the other. In addition, with the same clips, robots are able to fix their position, if necessary, by hooking on handrails or other elements of the station's interior;
- To charge them on the ISS installed a special docking station. It also serves to analyze the received telemetry data;
- Movement can only be on the ISS and only inmodules, where there is an atmosphere, because their movement in weightlessness is carried out thanks to a system of fans (installed on each side of the cube), which trap and emit air through 12 nozzles in the opposite direction of movement. The internal computer installed on each robot is responsible for the operation of this system;
- Linux is used as an operating system. However, the module that meets the task of moving objects inside the station is based on Android. This will allow, if necessary, to quickly expand the functionality of the system;
- Each robot is equipped with: a main navigation camera with a field of view of 116 degrees, several HD cameras with autofocus and the ability to transmit information to Earth in real time, as well as the CamBoard Pico Flexx system, which allows the car to recognize objects and obstacles from up to four meters;
- Can work both autonomously and using remote control.
Robot charging station
Functions and tasks of Astrobee robots
- Help the crew. Perform routine tasks so that the crew of the ISS can focus on solving more important issues: conducting experiments and various scientific studies;
- Inventory, documentation of experiments, monitoring of the operation of the ISS systems, air quality monitoring, movement of cargo on board the station;
- Maintenance of the modules of the MKS, when there are no personnel in them or in places where the crew cannot reach quickly;
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