The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) currently has a very interesting robot floating on the International Space Station. JEM Internal Ball Camera, referred to as “Int-Ball”, is a small floating sphere that can record the activities of astronauts on the International Space Station and send it to ground personnel.
About the size of a basketball, the 3D-printed Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN (CIMON), developed in partnership with Airbus and IBM, is another visitor to the International Space Station. However, CIMON is not focused on recording, but a powerful assistant. The robot responds to voice commands and is being tested by astronauts to display programs and recommend ways to perform tasks.
The Valkyrie robot, built by NASA and developed by the University of Edinburgh, is an interesting research project. Although the 1.8-meter-tall, 125-kilogram robot itself has not yet entered space, it is the technical focus of robots used by humans to explore space.
4. Robonaut 2
Robonaut 2 is a dexterous humanoid robot designed and built at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The robot includes various vision systems, climbing systems, image recognition systems, sensor integration, tendon hands and control algorithms, and has been on the International Space Station since 2012. Astronauts can use it to perform repetitive and hazardous tasks, such as changing air filters.
NASA’s Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) is a robot designed to “sniff out” leaks from space equipment. Astronauts use RELL to detect potentially dangerous problems, such as ammonia coolant loop leaks. In addition, the robot can perform spacewalks and perform similar inspections in space when needed.
6. Robot refueling mission
Another robot that has been very useful for space installations is NASA’s Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), which paved the way for advancements in satellite servicing. Astronauts responsible for spacewalks understand the dangers, but there are some simple tasks better suited to robots. RRM has tested the tools and technology needed to autonomously refuel and repair satellites in space.
Astrobee is a compact cube designed specifically for the International Space Station. Since astronauts have limited time in space, time is of the essence, and the cube could be controlled autonomously or directly from Houston to perform daily chores, housework and monitoring tasks on the International Space Station.
8. Opportunity Mars Rover
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Mars rover Opportunity. NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover is currently exploring an area we have yet to reach – the surface of Mars – and has been providing video that is extremely valuable to the ground.
Another robot worth mentioning is Kirobo, which was designed by robotics engineer Tomotaka Takahashi and was the first robot sent by Japan to the International Space Station. This small, talkative robot provided a lot of joy to the astronauts on the International Space Station and returned to Earth a year later.
RoboSimian is an ape-like robot developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and participated in the DARPA Challenge in 2015. Although it is not specifically designed for space, RoboSimian has the potential to undertake long-range missions in space exploration and disaster scenarios.