NASA has been working on robots to help ISS astronauts so that they have more time to devote to science than to routine maintenance tasks. NASA has announced the creation of a trio of robotic bees that would join the ISS astronauts. These robots do not look anything like their name.
These are floating cubes that look alike with panels of different colors at the front and back. Robotic aids have been developed at the Ames Research Center in California, and the official name is Astrobee. NASA said the robots would remain "busy like a bee" flying around the ISS and would participate in routine maintenance and inventory tracking.
The robots are also designed to help field researchers experiment with tasks such as human-robot interaction in space and to test new technologies. The robots were tested in a special laboratory of the Ames research center, where a model of the interior of the space station was built.
The propulsion of robots takes place via fans, and the location of these fans allows the bot to move in any direction and turn on any axis. NASA has equipped the robots with cameras and sensors for the navigation inside the space station and the avoidance of obstacles. Each Astrobee has a robotic arm that can be attached to handle cargo and perform experiments.
The robots are powered by electricity and, when the current drops, the robot moves autonomously to a dock where it can recharge. Two modes of operation are supported, robots can move autonomously or can be controlled remotely by astronauts. According to NASA, Astrobee robots are relying on the success of SPHERES robots arriving at the ISS in 2006. NASA intends to launch the Astrobees to the ISS this month , taking off taking place at the Wallops Flight Installation.