Astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) have been testing robots for technology demonstrations for quite some time. Now, smartphones will transform these robots into “housekeepers”. Also Read - Why smartphones must be classified as an essential product during COVID-19 lockdowns
NASA’s Ames Research Centre in Moffett Field, California, has sent two Google prototype smartphones aboard the ISS that astronauts will attach to the SPHERES – the free-flying Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites. These small SPHERES have been flying inside the ISS since 2006 and provide a test bed for development and research. Each has its own power, propulsion, computer, navigation equipment and physical and electrical connections for hardware and sensors for various experiments, NASA reported. Also Read - How is the Smartphone Industry Trend in 2021?
Once the map and its coordinate system are developed, the test will involve smartphones being attached to robots to make them free-flying “Smart SPHERES”. “NASA uses robots for research and mission operations. It is exciting to demonstrate the use of small, mobile robots to enhance future exploration missions,” Chris Provencher, manager of the “Smart SPHERES” project, was quoted as saying. As the “free-flying” robots move around the ISS with the help of smartphones, they will provide locational clues to the crew inside the station and the flight controllers in mission control. Also Read - NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter uses same chip as Samsung Galaxy S5, OnePlus One
In a two-phase experiment, astronauts will manually use smartphones to collect visual data using the integrated custom 3D sensor to generate a full 3D model of their environment. These smartphone-controlled robots can perform housekeeping tasks such as video surveys for safety and configuration audits, noise level measurements and air quality measurements for astronauts, media report added.