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Author: Tronserve admin

Wednesday 28th July 2021 04:55 AM

NASA Launching Astrobee Robots to Space Station Tomorrow


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It’s been a little over two years since we were first presented to Astrobee, an autonomous robotic cube developed to fly around the International Space Station. Tomorrow, a pair of Astrobee robots (named Honey and Bumble) will launch to the ISS aboard a Cygnus cargo flight.

There’s already a nice cozy dock waiting for them in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), and the plan is to put these to run as soon as possible. After a bit of astronaut-assisted setup, the robots will buzz around autonomously, doing experiments and taking video, even working without direct human supervision on occasion. NASA has great plans for these little robots, and before they head off to space, we checked in with folks from the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

 

Each Astrobee robot is a cube about 30 centimeters on a side. The propulsion system, which you can study more about in our past article, is founded around a pair of impellers that pressurize air inside of the robot, which can then be vented through a series of 12 different nozzles spaced around the robot’s body. By opening and closing assorted nozzles in different combinations, the robot can rotate or translate in any direction, without external moving parts or the need for canisters of pressurized gas. Astrobee also comes equipped with the onboard sensing and computing required for fully autonomous operation. Its flight software is based on ROS and is upgradeable on-orbit. The robot can carry a variety of modular payloads, and will be equipped with a little arm that it can use to grab onto handrails so that it can take video of astronauts without its motors running. The arms will be mounted a little bit later, since they ended up requiring a little extra troubleshooting, but that should only take a month or two. Eventually (and really not too long from now as these things go), Astrobee will be able to perform all kinds of useful tasks—both things that astronauts are spending their time on now, as well as things that only a robot can do.

 

The robot that we saw at NASA Ames back in 2017 was Astrobee prototype 4D. The flight-ready design is mostly the same; the most obvious difference is that the crushable blue foam pieces around the propulsion modules have been replaced with smaller foam corner bumpers covered in black Nomex fabric. The exterior of the robot is colorful and stylized, featuring prominent arrows on the sides to show which way the robot is facing, and each Astrobee is a different color so that you can tell them apart: Honey is blue and Bumble is yellow, and there’s a third Astrobee, Queen, which is green and will join the other two on orbit later this year. LED arrays around the impellers can be used for turn signals or other kinds of human-robot interaction.



This article is originally posted on IEEESPECTRUM.com


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Posted on : Wednesday 28th July 2021 04:55 AM

NASA Launching Astrobee Robots to Space Station Tomorrow


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Posted by  Tronserve admin
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It’s been a little over two years since we were first presented to Astrobee, an autonomous robotic cube developed to fly around the International Space Station. Tomorrow, a pair of Astrobee robots (named Honey and Bumble) will launch to the ISS aboard a Cygnus cargo flight.

There’s already a nice cozy dock waiting for them in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), and the plan is to put these to run as soon as possible. After a bit of astronaut-assisted setup, the robots will buzz around autonomously, doing experiments and taking video, even working without direct human supervision on occasion. NASA has great plans for these little robots, and before they head off to space, we checked in with folks from the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

 

Each Astrobee robot is a cube about 30 centimeters on a side. The propulsion system, which you can study more about in our past article, is founded around a pair of impellers that pressurize air inside of the robot, which can then be vented through a series of 12 different nozzles spaced around the robot’s body. By opening and closing assorted nozzles in different combinations, the robot can rotate or translate in any direction, without external moving parts or the need for canisters of pressurized gas. Astrobee also comes equipped with the onboard sensing and computing required for fully autonomous operation. Its flight software is based on ROS and is upgradeable on-orbit. The robot can carry a variety of modular payloads, and will be equipped with a little arm that it can use to grab onto handrails so that it can take video of astronauts without its motors running. The arms will be mounted a little bit later, since they ended up requiring a little extra troubleshooting, but that should only take a month or two. Eventually (and really not too long from now as these things go), Astrobee will be able to perform all kinds of useful tasks—both things that astronauts are spending their time on now, as well as things that only a robot can do.

 

The robot that we saw at NASA Ames back in 2017 was Astrobee prototype 4D. The flight-ready design is mostly the same; the most obvious difference is that the crushable blue foam pieces around the propulsion modules have been replaced with smaller foam corner bumpers covered in black Nomex fabric. The exterior of the robot is colorful and stylized, featuring prominent arrows on the sides to show which way the robot is facing, and each Astrobee is a different color so that you can tell them apart: Honey is blue and Bumble is yellow, and there’s a third Astrobee, Queen, which is green and will join the other two on orbit later this year. LED arrays around the impellers can be used for turn signals or other kinds of human-robot interaction.



This article is originally posted on IEEESPECTRUM.com

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nasa astrobee robots sending robots into space