NASA is developing robots to send to outer space. Even though developing a robot is expensive, sending a robot to space is cheaper than sending a human as robots do not need to eat or sleep and are low maintenance. This saves a lot of money. They do not have to return to the earth soon and can send data from space to scientists.

NASA’s Impressive Robots

NASA engineers are working on new robots all the time. In the past, NASA has developed a number of robots. Some of them are Mars rovers, Curiosity and Spirit, and Opportunity. The new ones are:

1. Puffer

It is short for Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Rover. Puffer is a two-wheeled robot and is very light. It also has a flattening feature. This enables the robot to explore small and tight areas where humans cannot reach. It is also known as ORIGAMI ROBOT, as it holds the Japanese concept of origami. Moreover, it is widely known for its foldable design, and has great mobility in tight spaces. 

2. BRUIE 

This is short for Buoyant Rover for Under Ice Exploration. It is remote-controlled and takes pictures underwater. It is also capable of floating on water and can roll on ice. Moreover, it can even hunt for aliens on Jupiter or Moon! How mindblowing is that? 

Image Courtesy: NASA

3. Hedgehog

In collaboration with Stanford and MIT, Hedgehog is another robot being developed by NASA. It resembles a cube with spikes. It is carefully designed to explore asteroids. Furthermore, it will be exploring planetary bodies having less gravitation. 

Image Courtesy: NASA
Image Courtesy: NASA

4. NASA’s humanoid robots

NASA’s Johnson Space Center has a humanoid named R5, or Valkyrie. This is the most advanced space humanoid robot. Also, a Robonaut is a humanoid robot, part of a development project conducted by the Dexterous Robotics Laboratory at NASA’s Lyndon B. Recently, NASA has started hiring engineers to develop “Next Generation Humanoid Robot” for outer space.

Image Courtesy: NASA
Image Courtesy: NASA

ESA’S Studies

ESA (European Space Agency) is conducting several experiments on how to incorporate AI into robots. Developing robots with artificial intelligence is extremely useful as AI enables robots to take care of themselves. An older study by ESA identified the need to improve automation, navigation, automated telemetry analysis, and software upgradability of robots.

A more recent study focuses on novel automated procedures to reduce the active workload of ground operators. Automation will reduce the need for human intervention. Other studies focus mainly on how artificial intelligence can be used in advanced mission operations and technologies, as well as in innovative security concepts, mechanisms, and architectures.

Advantages of Sending Robots Into Space

It is cheaper to send a robot to space than a human. They are capable of surviving in space for many years. Unlike humans, robots do not need food or drink to survive. Space robots also take measurements for astronauts. They collect samples from different planets or different terrains on the same planet or celestial body. Moreover, they can assemble and fix space equipment and structures. They can reach places humans cannot reach. Space robots can also explore other planets. Cameras are fixes on the robots, providing

scientists with valuable information about the atmosphere, landscape, terrain, geographic features and climatic conditions of bodies in space that are far away.

Major demerit:

AI lacks the reliability and adaptability required to program robots. Scientists are trying to improve these qualities in order to send robots to space.

Robots Sent to Space

The most famous robots in space have to be the series of orbiters, rovers, and landers that have been sent to Mars. The amount spent on space exploration is going down. In spite of this, NASA is investing huge sums of money on space robots. Recently, NASA announced a partnership with nine U.S. aerospace companies with the objective to send multiple small robots to the Moon. Furthermore, the Russian Space Agency is aiming to send a humanoid robot to the International Space Station.

Experiments on the Space Station

To date, 20 scientific organizations from around the world have come to the conclusion that the experiments done on the space station are a waste of time, money, and also other valuable resources. These groups have recommended that experiments on space science are better if dome through robotic and telescopic missions. Despite this disapproval, NASA decided to proceed with experiments on the space station. 

Looking even further ahead, it’s hard to imagine what the space robots of the future will be able to achieve. Or what they will even look like. However, they will continue to help scientists and astronauts with their space missions.

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