ASTROBEES - Robots in Space



Debarun Acharya

<These cube-shaped little robots are as cute as they are helpful.>

Astrobees look like the robot companions you might expect to find in a science fiction film — they're small (about the size of a bread loaf), cube-shaped, free-flying little machines. But the Astrobees are entirely functional bots that have joined the crew aboard the space station, and, in the near future, they will be joined by a third bot. For now, the two Astrobees currently on the station will practice helping astronauts with routine tasks. One of the many purposes of the Astrobees is to reduce the amount of time that astronauts have to spend on mundane tasks like finding lost pieces of equipment.

The Astrobees, equipped with a built-in camera and their "perching arm," are also designed to help maintain the space station; and they, or a similar robot, could one day have the capacity to take care of and maintain future spacecraft. Presently, the little robots' built-in camera will help crew members and ground controllers to see problems inside the space station remotely. This camera could also be used to survey crew activities. The Astrobee team hopes that this capability will grow.

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