Last month, a spaceship arrived at the International Space Station, which, among other things, transported small cube-shaped robots called Astrobees. The devices are designed to operate in the spacecraft's unique zero-gravity environment and provide support for astronauts on the ISS. In their latest update on the subject, NASA has released a picture of the astro robotic "Bumble" on the ISS and some details on how the robot works and its "Honey" companion.
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As with their counterparts on Earth, astronauts can benefit from robots that perform certain tasks that would otherwise take valuable time and are more suitable for complex tasks.
NASA points out on its website that robot assistants can work to improve the space station's efficiency by helping with some "routine tasks" such as inventorying, transporting goods, and using cameras to document experiments.
The Astrobee is described as a free-flying system. It was specially developed for operation in the weightless environment of the ISS. A trio of cube-shaped robots includes the system, which itself includes a docking station to which the robots can autonomously return to the store. The Astrobee propulsion system uses electric fans to move the astrobes through the weightlessness lab.
In their latest update on robot assistants, NASA showed astronaut Anne McClain, who carried out the first test series with the Astrobee robot Bumble. McClain worked with a team on Earth at NASA's Ames Research Center to review all the robot's various systems, including drivetrain, cameras, avionics, docking, and data transfer capability.