NASA's doing a good job of keeping the International Space Station well-stocked with robots just in case there's a surprise alien invasion. Robonaut 2 is up there, along with a pack/fleet/swarm/assemblage of SPHERES robots. NASA's Ames Research Center, Johnson Space Center, and MIT have put together a little vid to keep us all up to date with their on-orbit robot happenings and how they plan to give Robonaut his own personal spaceship rear-attachment.
I love the idea of turning SPHERES into little space-Roombas that take sensor readings instead of snuffling up dirt, but from an outside perspective, it's a little bit frustrating that this is all taking so long to implement. I recognize that all of these robots are up in freakin' outer space so things can't be rushed, but Robonaut 2 was launched just over a year ago and SPHERES have been aboard the ISS for over five years. The astronauts are super busy, I'm sure, but as the video says, the point of having robots up there is to offload as much of the boring work as possible from the humans, and the sooner we can make that happen, the more time we'll end up saving in the long run and the more science we'll be able to accomplish overall.
Via [ NASA ]
Evan Ackerman is the senior writer for IEEE Spectrum’s award-winning robotics blog, Automaton. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and emerging technology, covering conferences and events on every single continent except Africa, Antarctica, Australia, and South America (although he remains optimistic). In addition to Spectrum, Evan’s work has appeared in a variety of other online publications including Gizmodo and Slate, and you may have heard him on NPR’s Science Friday or the BBC World Service if you were listening at just the right time. Evan has an undergraduate degree in Martian geology, which he almost never gets to use, and still wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. In his spare time, he enjoys scuba diving, rehabilitating injured raptors, and playing bagpipes excellently.