NASA’s Astrobee system consists of three cubed-shaped robots, software and a docking station used for recharging. They use electric fans as a propulsion system that allows them to fly freely through the micro-gravity environment of the International Space Station. Cameras and sensors help them “see” and navigate their surroundings, while a perching arm enables them to grasp station handrails in order to conserve energy or to grab and hold items. One of the robots, named “Bumble,” flew on its own for the first time on June 14th just to test basic movements like flying forward and rotating. Read more for a video and additional information.
“Future tests will have Bumble perform “increasingly complex” moves to show that it’s ready for service. There’s another robot (Honey) already present on the ISS, while a third robot (Queen) is expected to launch in July. Eventually, NASA wants robots like the Astrobee series to serve as custodians. They’ll perform some of the upkeep and assistance so that astronauts can focus on their missions instead of monotonous tasks,” reports Engadget.