NASA in Silicon Valley Live: Space Robots
Nine. Eight. Seven. Six five. Four. Three. Two. Hi. Everybody, welcome, to another episode of, NASA in Silicon Valley live I am your host Tiffany Blake if this. Is your first time tuning in to the show the. NASA, and Silicon Valley alive is a conversational. Show, out of NASA's Ames Research Center or we talk about all the, nerdy, NASA news you need to know today. With me I have the, awesome, Abbie, Tabor hello. Tiffany yes, hi everybody I'm your co-host today, avi Tabor and we, are simultaneously live, right now on twitch, YouTube. Facebook and periscope, but, if you want to join in the chat and leave questions for our awesome guest today you need to do that on Twitch so go to. Www.dvc.edu/financialaid. I'm. A robotics, engineer and, I build space robots pretty. Sweet all. Right yeah. I'm Terry Fong and I'm the chief roboticist, here at NASA Ames and, I dream up the robots that Maria that has to go build awesome, job. Description. Thanks. You. Guys before. We get into the show I wanna remind our audience about this really cool clock we have here, yes exactly. This lovely, item that, we have for you today is our moon countdown, clock so fires from, now in, 2024. We're planning to send humans, to the moon as part of our Artemis, program and this, clock is counting down the days, hours. Minutes and, seconds, until, 2024. When, the first woman and the next man will walk on the moon south pole so pretty, exciting we'll talk more about that later in the show but if you want to learn more meanwhile. You can visit, www.nasa.gov. Slash, artemis. Okay. Let's get started okay I'm excited. I. Think let's start with just the basics, like what's the history of you, know humans and robots in space sorry. Can you tell us a little bit sure you I mean NASA has used robots in, space for a long time to carry out planetary exploration we've. Sent robots to Mars and. We still have robots on Mars today of course but in, parallel to that there's been this real development, for, actually for a long time of robots that work with humans, and, they, are used you know outside of spacecraft, like outside of the space station and, more recently we've been working with robots inside a spacecraft as well right, we're going a little bit closer together right yeah really awesome. So how. About we talk, a little bit about you know how. They work to the other yeah yeah, how. Exactly do robots and humans, interact, yeah, I, think a great thing about when, you talk about robots, and humans, together it's this not just oh how how do I make that robot you know just go off and do something but, this whole notion of you know humans, and robots working as a team and that's, something I think we're. Gonna see much more of as we go forward in the future this, whole idea that we can use robots. To work. Together with, humans to, perform work in space or on planetary surfaces, and. The idea is you might have all kinds, of different robots, and all kinds of humans working together with, those robots right and in the same way that a team for, example a football team has specialists, you, know you play to the strengths, of the different members of the team so in this case you play the strengths of the, humans versus the robots okay robots, are certain, things better. Yeah. You were telling, us earlier about the 3ds. Common. Phrase and in robotics the, 3ds. Which is dull dirty and dangerous, those. Are the cases where you want to send a robot in rather. Than a human yeah. You know if it's something really boring to do you gotta take a whole bunch of measurements, it's probably better to send a robot who doesn't mind do. You. Know if it's if it's something where it's, a dangerous, situation again. You it's. Sad but you might not mind, losing a robot. Far. Less than losing. A human yeah so. Could a dangerous, job be something out in space like, leaving I'm sure I mean, I think beyond just dangerous. I mean there are some things you know like Maria was saying that you, know really plays to the strengths of robots you. Know there are some things that require moving very large pieces. Of equipment or. Other things. In space that are just, too, massive or too heavy for human. Intuitive, yeah, and some take longer. Precise. Placement. You. Can place. The items very precisely with a robot, but just like in any any team you know I think if you have a combination, of humans. And robots they can work well together I mean you know that allows you to do much more than just you know any individual, thing, or, person by themselves, yeah and. An. Example, I think of the precision, that you're talking about you guys told us the International, Space Station was assembled by robots, right. Yeah. Cool, so we have robots working outside. Of spacecraft robots. Working inside, a spacecraft right so, let's, talk about some of those what are some historical.
Robots That have worked on Space. Station or with. Shuttle. A Canada. Arm or. Space Shuttle 50, foot robot arm that. Was used for things like which, we see right now I used, to deploy things like satellites, to. Very precisely. Place. Equipment. For example when, when, we. Were integrating the space station yeah this is this was actually a pretty big arm it's like a 50 foot long arm, Wow, and I was able to move, 32,000. Pounds that's basically like moving a school bus pick. Up and move in position a school bus. That's. A pretty big robot. Benefit. You know to building, something like you know how. Long a station. To. Hold, astronauts, in place -, oh like well they're working ones are working right funny go floating off of the. Things. You never think about. Here's. The cool one robonaut2. Mentioned. Earlier that robots can work outside or inside a spacecraft so Robonaut 2 was, a a humanoid. Robot that we sent up a few years ago to the space station and the picture you can see here is holding, something which looks like a magic wand but, that's actually an. Air flow measurement, device. Has. A great name well, the device actually is called the the sensor is actually called a velocity elk it's. Really meant to to, be used inside a space station for monitoring air flow and here we were doing some experiments, to see how a robot like Robonaut. 2 could carry out tasks which are normally done by humans, all right those humanoid, robots can use the same tools as astronauts. So you don't have to retool, everything, that. Vilasa, calc instrument, is usually, used by the astronauts, so Robonaut. Because it has, hands can actually hold it use it the same way an astronaut Lord and the benefit of course of you know a robot for doing this kind of jobs it doesn't get tired of holding something and if they do it many times over and over and it's not going to complain. I. Was in space I wouldn't, care what I would say hey take measurements the airflow sure. What. About some current, robots, in space that. We have. So there's. Spheres, which. A, testbed. Actually I have a model here, and. This, one's near and dear to our heart here names of course right, it, is. So. This is a model. Of the spheres which are currently on orbit there's three, of them on the space station and. They've been used as a testbed for guest. Scientists, so, developers. Technology, developers on on. Earth like, from academia from, commercial, from. Inside, of NASA have developed technologies, that they would like to fly in zero-g and so, they can actually deploy, it on a spheres, which would then fly. Them around inside, a space station so, what we see here is, actually the mounting point where you can that put, a payload, on oh yeah yeah, you. Know one interesting thing about these is that they they fly around by, using actually, carbon dioxide, so there's normally a tank that plugs into these and they have little, little, nozzles, basically, which, release controlled, puffs of carbon, dioxide yeah, basically, these little circular.
Basically. Pumps its way around inside, a space station oh cool, very. Cool they've. Been on orbit for over a decade, yeah really yes you stubborn astronauts for over a decade. You. Know. That's. Yes. Kind of the size of a volleyball we've, been saying lies. Itself around it, holds, experiments. Okay and as as if that wasn't enough you guys upgraded. Your. Spheres at one point right yes. We. Have a project called smart, spheres where. We, we. Wanted, to see what we could do to improve the. The compute, power onboard the sensing power onboard because these. Were built you know 14 15 years ago so so, the sensors, the, the computer, very. Old very out, of date and, so we want to be able to kind of speed them up and try, some. Robotics. Experiments. Onboard and, so we actually, flew this which I'm not sure do you want to maybe. This. Is this, is you, might recognize this as a smartphone and this. Is actually a Nexus, S smartphone. Which. You probably can't find anywhere. Mm. And. You. Know we had to make some modifications it doesn't look like the off-the-shelf, thing although I will say this started off you. Know at a local electronics store was actually purchased. You. Know you know you worry about obviously. People worry about breaking their smartphones and you know think they cover their screens and of course weak worried about that but we didn't want the shards if they were I need to fly off right so there's, actually some teflon tape on here it's. Got this very you know sort of sleek battery pack here because we had some concerns about putting lithium you, know. But. The great thing about this is it's very compact it gave us cameras. And built-in. Accelerometers. And has high bandwidth, wireless. Data transfer. So. The ultimate brain, upgrade. Next. Time on pimp your robot. Also. The fun fact about spheres, is that it, was based. On an idea from Star, Wars right that's right. Based. On the training, droid and. The first Star Wars movie when, he's, learning how to use a lightsaber.
This. Actually came up you. Know from the original place where Spears was developed and that was at MIT and professor, Dave Miller challenged, his you, know as his engineering, class yeah yeah you know here's, here's the thing and Star Wars can you build me one. Excellent. All right so that's one that we particularly love there, are a few others that are currently, I think on the station that we could talk about and share some pictures on you showed us before Canada arm there's Canada arm. 258. Foot, okay. Robotic, arm on the, outside. Of the, space station and, it's, used for multiple, purposes but, it also it's used to dock the, commercial, commercial. Cargo, vehicles. So, what we see here is it it's. Being used to dock the the SpaceX. Dragon. Yeah. And this arm is even. As Maria said it's even longer than the original Canada. Arm which is on the on this space shuttle this, one also, it's, a really big arm it can actually move you, know eight times more. Space. Station modules. It's. Really cool the way it can inchworm, around the station so it can wherever it needs to be deployed they, sort of it there are holding spots around the outside, of the modules in. Inchworms, itself across. Robot. Because it's actually a collection of you, know a bunch of different robots that fit together and there's the big arm itself, but. There's also a, separate. Set, of robot, arms, that can attach the end and those those, arms form the system called dexter or. If you like acronyms it's the the spdm. The special purpose dexterous manipulator. Basically. Allows this large arm to have the ability to to. Do fine quote, fine dexterous, motion so you have two, smaller arms, attached to this bigger arm and those go on to a mobile base and so now you have this big, large system, that can really move all kinds of things around outside of the space station Wow. Pretty. Handy yeah. What. About Simon. I'm in with a seed climbin with the sea yes that. Was built by the German. Space Agency, and Airbus. Simon. It's. Meant. To be a personal, assistant to. Astronauts, on. The station so, we see him there with Alexander, Gerst who was a commander, on station, about a year ago last summer and. They ran an experiment. Simon. Actually runs Watson. So. It's similar to you know the smart, speakers that you know add. Something to my shopping list or. It. Can be helpful you, know if, they need to have a procedure brought up so. You. Know help them with different. Tasks that they're doing and, your. Personal robotic assistant. You. Know it's voice commanded, yeah yeah. Sandi. I. Think. We have another here ant ball. Was. Built by the Japanese Space Agency and. It's meant to be basically, a floating camera it can move around inside.
The Japanese experiment, module, and. Take over some of the sort of videography, chores, of, astronauts, so a, lot, of times, astronauts. Need to document, activities. You. Know so they're filming other astronauts. Doing things and so this. Little robot can, take the take over that job oh. Yeah. I have a question, here before, we go to our rapid-fire, questions we're, gonna take as many as possible, but. Shamli. Wants, to know would robots on the International, Space Station be controlled by Houston or, command, here on earth or would they be in the hands of the astronaut, aboard the, station all, of the above I. Mean. Just. Like there's, no one perfect robot you. Know for everything there's there's not one you, know specific, way that any, of these robots would be operated. They could be controlled from from the earth they could operate, you. Know autonomously. Or they could be you know operated, also by astronauts oh yes. Yes. And. Actually so spheres that we were looking at a minute ago it does do some things autonomously, on Space Station right and. We. Have video of it docking and undocking. Okay. You. Know the some of the experiments that we've done with spheres you know we've, tried to allow it to operate, and. Fly around inside the space station by, itself it, can be used to carry out things like interior. Surveys they can fly back and forth to. Very specific, locations. Take readings at those locations and then fly on yeah, do. A video of that maybe that's what I was thinking of yes yeah yeah, let's see if we get that spheres, video. So. There you see smart spheres this is yeah this was actually different smartphones oh we we work with not just the Nexus S but this was a project, tango smartphone. That. We worked, on in partnership, with our friends next door over at Google and, here is a picture this is a video here you can actually see a smartphone on the front of spheres it's flying around inside, of the space station it's, actually going back and forward back and forth supplying kind of a lawnmower pattern, and this, is what Mission Control sees so you can see video coming, down from the smartphone cameras, you can see what. Looks like a video game on the right side you can see the path that it's flying and the, weight points that it's going back and forth between so here's a flying towards point seven at. The lower right there there's an image that shows the. Representation. Of what the camera seen that kind of blue thing and this, allows us to have a really good understanding of, the robot in, its environment and what it's doing at any given time oh yeah awesome, cool. So there's your answer to that yeah we, have a comic, from snow, the end says I heart. Robot. Yeah. There were some others quert, go. Canada. What. Are some others we could jump right into our fire. Start session. Emphasis. On the creek. All. Right just, need to yes, have one so let's, say for Fears how long, did it take to actually create the robot, actually. Designed that yeah, well. As, I said this this was a a project. That started MIT with, with, actually an undergraduate engineering class, and. So, the students worked on that extensively. That led to a number of different prototypes and, eventually those were sent up to the space station. But. You know the reality is that it's hard to say exactly how, long it takes to build something because, you have to design it test, it there. Are lot of things for, the space station that we're concerned about in terms of making sure things are safe right of course in terms of like materials, and how it operates and all those kinds of things so a.
Fair Amount of time especially with that and then of course once they get on the space station you know just because you get they're done. Every. Single robot that goes up into space we're still learning, how to improve and, make them better. A. Comment. About int ball from, airplane, man 1997. So cute. Yes. The. Jaypee guy has a question about learning. And training to do things like you guys do is it possible to learn robotics by, self-study, and tinkering with machines, what books or resources would you suggest. Yes. I would say I would say so robotics, is it's very broad field so, you can contribute to a, robotics, project. You. Know with any kind of background almost you. Know product, designers, you. Know programmer, is, electrical. Engineers mechanical, engineers, so really. It's. Whatever you love to do you know what would you prefer to, to, do and then you, know you, can contribute then - yeah a robotics. Team that's. Awesome that's good news could do a lot of different things yeah and I think a great thing today which, didn't exist a few years ago as there are a lot of online classes you can take in robotics and, so I think learning by yourself is totally possible they're, even open source robotics, projects that you can contribute to, and. So I think the important thing is just to get involved, and not worry. About whether or not this is in a university, or at. Home I mean. Get. Started yeah. Twitch. Prime queer tear back I saw the floating, square a robot assistant, aster be or maybe it was the other one I forget the name the, assistant robots testing on the, international. Course. We had the speech, TV net says on the assets do they have. Something they can talk to or ask questions like a lecture at Google home and of course that was Simon, that's a. Good. Question Godzilla's, asks, can we expect robots, to take over the role of astronauts, on spacewalks, and conduct, things such as maintenance well. I think, you know maintenance, is one of those things that we really want, to see robots you, know take on an increasing role because. So, much of the time of astronauts. Today is spent doing, preventive. And corrective maintenance, onboard the space station and. So we'd love to have robots be able to take spacewalks, but you know right now we have these large arms that are actually used to do some amount of maintenance external. To the space station without. Astronauts. You. Have another one you wanna. See. Here. There's. A question about robotics, competitions, yeah yes, off to, Mars I have been on Spheeris. Zero. Robotics. By. MIT developed. The. Exactly.
And. It's a middle, school in high school, software. Competition, so awesome, the preliminaries, are done in simulation, you, you program, the, spheres to perform, certain tasks, that. So the preliminary rounds are done in simulation, and then the finalists, get to fly their code along. The spheres on the international space station Wow for real excellent. Yeah middle in high school middle and high school yeah yeah, get, started early yeah. It. Was not something code to the station, I. Don't. Want to say my age. Well. Hidden here, for, Cali, cama do. You see a point where robot robotics. Will, be able to perform enough tasks where humans won't be needed, on. The ISS, you. Know I I'm often asked that question about, you know you know the relative strengths, and weaknesses, of humans, and robots and I I, think that you, know we will always have humans involved in space and then partially is because you know we as humans want to also explore. But. It's also the case too that you know we, can't do everything by ourselves and, just like any you know team you. Know it's more than one. Person involved and I think they'll be more than you know one human and one robot and more than just robots really, I think the future is humans, and robots together yeah. Yeah. Cool, how, about one, more question from the chat okay, we, move on which. I have now lost space, TV net hello wants, to know what, animal, shape is the best for robots in zero gravity is. There. An animal in sprin nature, inspiration. Work. There seems to be a lot of spheres. Poor. Guys you know we like, at least for flying robots to have some sort of symmetry to them because, he can fly in any direction in space. Sometimes. I think robot, design draws inspiration from, and. In, biology has obviously evolved, all kinds of different shapes different, forms, and we'd like to try to take advantage of that but, we also sometimes draw inspiration, you know as we said from like science, fiction you know the idea that people. Come up with in Hollywood, for robots I mean sometimes like a witch. Shape. Also it, depends on what functionality you're looking for so you build, it so that it's most efficient, at the job you. Want to accomplish, so.
That's. What drives that drive, all. Right. Speaking. Of science fiction okay my question for us we. See robots all over in movies and TV shows comics, everything what are your favorites well. That's easy I mean for me you know my favorite robot is k9 which. Comes from Doctor Who k9. Was the. Doctors robot dog and. Had. Basically you, know a supercomputer. Built in inside, and, a little laser than its, nose but a canine no, question have you built a dog robot yet. Yeah. I don't. Really play, favorites, I don't really have. My. Favorites are real robots. All. Right well, speaking. Of your, favorites. Well, now let's come to that in just a moment okay we, wanted to talk about, characteristics. Yeah like what kind of qualities do. You look for in a robot. You. Know we look for we look for robots that can really help out especially we're talking about humans and robots in space yeah, to. Really work well together and. I think just like here on earth there's no single. Definition. Of what a team is the. Same is true in space, I mean fact we could have robots that work say, before humans or robots that work after humans, or. Maybe even in parallel more in support so the idea is that you could have a team and all kinds, of you know different settings. And. So sometimes we build robots to, do things that, might, take a long period of time you have them work either before or after other. Times we want robots that can interact, more. It's sort of like human speed, pacing, so just, like we're talking we'd like robots that can react to us to. Remember. His. Comparison. All. Of our time here at work you know thinking about him trying to build robots you. Know sometimes, I admit, it's it's frustrating, because, it's. It's not unlike, you know trying to raise kids. You. Know good. Autonomous. Team, members and to work with you and. You. Know sometimes I'm not sure if it's more or less challenging than trying to build robots to do the same thing. My. Kids have grown up to be you know far more autonomous. And independent. Vacuum. Cleaner to. Get wedged under the. Should. We talk about one, of your. We. Call this our stunt double. Mystery. What's. The name of a, so, in. General these, robots are called aster B or aster B's but. They each have their, own name and the color yes, so this. Stunt double model, you see is you let me turn it so you can see the color better is orange, and. It's called killer solar, the other B but. We also have three of these on. Space Station currently, and, they. Are named bumble. Which is blue honey. Which, is yellow and Queen, which is green. We. Always know which one it is of course on the color yeah. This. Is my favorite. Robot we just finished building these and, watching them I'm. Very exciting. Robot. Because the past four years of, my life. Asked, how long it takes to build something well after B well it's been now almost five years since we started but, but. I mean fish building, them and launching, them within, those five years so so, they're and they're now starting to operate with it yeah so, about like a little, over four years to build the. Actual, flight units mm-hmm. And so I can tell, you a little bit about how these work yeah the number one question I get when talking, about Ospreys, was how. Do they move in in the day right, so, first, of all attributes. Inside. The space station because, it needs air, its. Fan base propulsion. There. Are two fans on board this sort of circular. Yeah. I can see it better there. We go, the the circular, opening that you see on the side maybe. Like. A speaker, that's a there's an impeller fan in there so that pulls air in and. Lightly pressurizes. The propulsion, module and then, those grills, that you see there's, there's two on every side so there's twelve total that's, right I mean. They. Open and close releasing. Some of that pressurized, air, and. That's how it pushes itself around.
Space Station alright so yeah it's it's very light, pressure it's, only about point one psi, over the, ambient. Station. Pressure so, very safe it's not gonna you know anything. We've. Seen it when its operating on orbit, we'll see like here. Definitely. See the. Air is moving yeah, but. It's not gonna like push them out away, for. This to push, it yeah, cool, and. Then of course the, other question we always get is how. Does it how. Does it know where it is you, know how does it move and navigate and not crash into the walls of. Sort. Of central white section, that you see right. There, is. The heart and soul of it it's the core module, inside. Our three, cell. Phone class computers, so, pretty much the same as your, cell phone and, it, uses a. Camera. But. The main camera the navigation. Camera, on this, end right there. It, uses that camera to look at features inside. The space station okay, so it, has a map that it keeps on board of. Features, it knows where those you know features should be in the station and then as it's flying around it. Compares what it currently sees to that map to, you, know figure out where it is, just. Like you know humans, recognize landmarks, to understand where, we are this. Does that but in a much more precise manner and. You, know I I think the other thing that Maria, was kind of you, know pointed, out is that we've added a whole bunch of cameras on here that's. Really enable it to fly around and, know where it is some. Of these are optimized, for really sort of like the closed-end docking, that. You might want to do with a robot we need a lot of accuracy and. Others are for just sort of like free flight when, you're really just trying to worry, hey, am I going to you know be in the center of a module or near a wall and that kind of thing yeah and. Then the last thing I like to point out on this model and. Part. Of the main purpose, of this robot, is to, carry payloads we, are actually going to be replacing, the spheres that we, saw earlier, of, to, carry around other experiments, okay and so there's. A lot of open space you. Can sort of see man coming through right there. Allows. Other, technologies. To, plug, into this robot and we will, fly, you around where, you ever you want to go in Space Station. Take, your experiment, your equipment, yeah we'll. Take you around Space Station. If. People out there have an idea for I got a great you know mechanism. Or a sensor, or something, else that could be built for s Trippi and you can go to, wboc.com, /. Astro be a STR, OBE and you'll, find all kinds of information about the Astra be guest science, program. And that. Tells people about you, know the physical size of the payload Bay is you know how you can, really, develop software, for this actually. Some of some of our interesting experiments, are just gonna be just purely, software, people, right and we upload into. One or more of the processors, on board do you want some of our payload, oh sure. Is. This it's. A it's, actually a robot arm you. Can see the gripper here and we can open the gripper up here, actually. You can hear the motors. This. Is a payload for Astra be just like any other and it can plug in on a handle summary I'll just show you where it would go like right, in here in the top payload, Bay we just slot it in here alright right, and there's these couple of levers here that the astronauts, can can.
Switch. To lock, it into place mm-hmm, and, so it ends oh how it should be used approaching, arm oh it has it has this gripper on, the front here and you know I can actually open this up here this, is designed to really. You know reach in and grab something. But. Inside the space station there. Are all these handrails that are all over inside the space station and the astronauts actually reach out they grab onto them to hold on hold. Themselves, in position, or to push themselves, on. To the next area and we, can take advantage of all the handrails there for. Astra be to grab onto and. That's why we refer to this actually as the perching, arm you know it's meant, to perch on to things inside, the space station right when after we grabs hold of the handrail, we can turn the propulsion modules, off and, save energy. Yeah. And because there's a camera we, have a high-def camera on the front end and, that the perching arm here, would be off the back end right. We can use this then as a pan tilt unit to point, the camera okay. So. Even. Though the robot is kind of grabbed, on to something and not flying around you, can still point the camera and move the camera we can still be working yeah I. Have, a question, here from M, DM, PhD, what, serious mission aspects, can be worked by robots such as pester B oh all. Kinds of things you. Know this. In addition to being a research, platform, you, know that's a gonna follow on two spheres is. Also for us meant to be something we can test out various things, that we would like future robots to do inside, of you. Know spacecraft, or maybe even future habitats. On on planets so, for example this, robot is going to carry a different, payload. Built by our friends down at NASA Johnson in, Texas, that's. An RFID. Scanner. So basically, we, can go around and use the free flying robot to take inventory of, things, that we have tagged with you know little little tags just, like in your credit cards. And. Grocery. Stores just. To do inventory so, inventory, is a great task for robots, another. Is just monitoring, the environment just, trying to, you, know like light levels, or sound levels, or air quality and. So we can put different sensors, on to Esther B and do that you, know all kinds of interesting things that you can use a robot, for really you, know help take care of the environment inside, your spacecraft and, kind, of freeing up the time for the astronauts, right because they spend a lot of time doing tasks like the inventory and, the monitoring, and if you have a robot. Doing that it.
You Know freezin about to do other things right yes that kind of the I. Think. Today, maybe. We'll talk about this more and later on in the show here but you. Know today on the space station it's a place where we have you know astronauts, all the time it's been continuously, manned for a long time now. But the astronauts actually spend a lot of their time doing maintenance a lot of routine maintenance some. Of it is just you know preventive, you know it's time to actually you know change an air filter, somebody's, corrective because something broke and, we'd like to try to use robots to help take, care of those tasks so that you, know the astronauts not to spend so much of their time I. Have. A couple comments about, it ester V that's. One weird-looking r2d2. It's. Kind of like a companion, cube. Yes. It's. Been pointed out to us that the resemblance, in, the past yeah. We. Have a question here this. Is how do, you charge. Or recharge, the attributes. Astra. B actually has a docking, station on. On. Space station, that. Lets us the. Robot can actually autonomously. Plug itself in so it's kind. Of your Roomba in space it. Can go out and fly these sorties, where it takes measurements, and. Does. Guess science, and then when it starts, the power starts to run low it. Has a docking port on the back which, we see here and. It can actually back itself into its its docking, station, and recharge. And. We also give it an Ethernet, connection to the space station local, area network when, we do that so we get a little bit higher, bandwidth, on communication. Oh yeah okay, so you could download any detail exactly. Astra. B's first autonomous, undock. We. See. Astronaut. Devide they're giving. Us the play-by-play that's, not a toothbrush, he's holding this. Motion. And then here we see it docking. This, is our first autonomous docking. Motion so, we just backed itself up into the dock we'll, see a little like come on telling us that there we go we've got a good connection. This. Was big celebration. For, us the, team running, this and and, crew was very excited, -. Yeah. What. Did the astronauts, say about working with aster be. Really. Positive comments, from them I mean for, them really it's it's a new teammate, in space and. You. Know I recall. The first time you. Know that Astri was that least the first Astra B what was unboxed, it was kind of like you know Christmas, in space. Got. A new roommate I can. Teach it how to actually you know be a good. So. We certainly have that we well, we were first building it was very much a concern that we would be good teammates, that we would be for, instance too loud you, know we want to stay quiet and, we don't to be annoying. It's. Gonna make a constant. Noise so, we want to you know minimize that and so far the feedback we've gotten from from. Astronauts, is that it's it's very reasonable, it's not too loud and it's they actually kind of like it because they can hear it coming. Fun. Things to say the other day about the. Astronauts are guiding, it around, I think. Yes. One. Of the first activities we had to do is build, the map of the, inside of the space station. You. Need to know what it really looks like you, know from the robots point of view so. Astronauts. Avide was, actually. Flying us manually, flying us around so that we could collect imagery. Data while. He was moving us around because we don't know where we are yet so we can't fly ourselves right, so. Moved. Us back and forth and he it was great he said it was like teaching a child. Let's. Say it was really interesting, and like exciting, watching you guys you, know do these you, know tests in the lab here, and just the excitement I mean the astronauts, are excited and then the team's excited here it's really, really cool experience of, Qatar I was in the back. You. Know working through the design and development of Astro B and certainly I think for the team you, know seen it in space was just hugely you know really rewarding. It was really great to see that you know you actually happen I can give you some breaking, news that just, yesterday, morning very early in the morning, we. We, have a test, with aster be with with bumble the blue or the blue robot, flying. It around it flew itself, it autonomously. Operated, it ran a whole bunch of plans, you know undocked itself flew around came. Back to dock it. Went really great. To. See that independence, it really is like a kid. We. Don't want to wait you know 20 years for it to grow and get a cause. All. Right so we've, been talking about how. These robots are helping astronauts today right so what, about looking, a little bit ahead because right now NASA is busy, working to get humans, to the moon in 2024, that's the Emmis purpose right could you maybe, summarize.
For People what the Artemis is all about and then yeah so I mean Artemis is certainly, a first step of you know extending, human presence beyond, just, you, know Earth and Earth orbit, yeah you know our goal here is of course to get people back to the moon you, know by 2024, and to do that we're, building a number of different systems you, know new spacecraft new. Landers and, this really interesting thing called the Gateway yeah, you know it's, meant to be an orbiting, sort, of mini space station around the moon yeah and it's a place that we're, building not, just because we want something to orbit the moon but it's really a jumping-off, point yeah to go beyond, the moon and also to be a place, where you can you know carry out experiments beyond. Earth orbit in, a place where you can you use that to, go to and, from the lunar surface. But. Unlike the space station it's meant to be a place where you, know we'll only occasionally, be there at least at first okay and so if you're only there for say you know a few weeks of the year what, happens rest the time well it's. Like having a vacation home you still need to take care of that have to maintain it you need to do caretaking, and you, know this in my opinion I think the very best way of doing that is to make use of robots. You. Know maybe they'll be a little lonely. The. Gateway it might be fun for people to see that and, I think you just answered, Pluto, oh 9s question could, you explain how the role of robotics, could be on the plan. Robots. Being inside and outside a station so and, I think the same thing is true about the, Gateway certainly. We, expect there to be an external robot arm you can see that right there in the animation and. I think at some, point in the future hopefully not too distant, future we'll, see robots, inside. Performing. Some of these these, caretaking right now tasks, and. I think beyond that to of course you, know here you, know at NASA we have spent quite a bit of time you know researching, studying, you, know how humans the robots can work together on planetary, surfaces. As. We get you know people back to the moon I fully expect there to be be, robots there as well and there, are the idea is that you could have humans, and robots doing. Things on the surface maybe the robots are doing scouting, maybe, they're setting up you, know infrastructure. Like communication. Arrays, solar, panels. Pads, and, they're you know really, I think the honestly. The sky's the limit about the things you can think about or ways for humans and robots the team um, as we carry out future exploration, mm-hmm, I think you have a question here from and you know to which are speaking about airplane man 1997. Well. We have robots, in deep, space, on. Other planets that will help humans. You know explore those planets that we've never you know explored before yeah absolutely I, mean we we have robots today on Mars but at some point in time we'll have humans there as well you, know and I think at. Least right now the current, focus on the moon is a great opportunity of not, just for NASA but for the you know the entire world to. Learn how to really, live and work, you know another planetary, surface on the moon and, then we can use all the things that we learn everything, that we've developed and tested and apply, that to other places such, as Mars, kind. Of continue the teaming that you you talked about earlier great. Strength. Exactly. Guys already talk a little bit about the before in, parallel, and after kind of ideas, Terri's sort of covered that. With talking about scouting, preparing.
Infrastructure. So. The after is you can you, know crews only gonna be there for a certain amount of time you know that the he must probably then go, after a few, months or year maybe and, then you want that the robots will stay behind so, they, can continue to do some of the work that the astronauts, started. Yeah for instance we talked about those tedious you know jobs yes taking, lots of measurements, so they could go in there and really characterize. Go spend. In. Fact several years ago we had a research project here at NASA Ames called, the robotic follow-up, project and Maria was actually the project, manager, for that okay and that was really all about exactly that you know we we sent out some, astronauts, into, the field and they had handheld, you. Know cameras, and instruments here, on earth I guess. We. Call a planetary, analog you, know so a location, on Earth that has features. Similar, exactly, to places in the car bottom lunar Mars in this particular case was in the Canadian Arctic oh this. Wonderfully, interesting place called, Devon Island and on there is a large 20, kilometer, you know 12 meter or 12 mile or so diameter. Impact. Structure, a big giant crater. We. Had astronauts. Doing. Some. Mapping work there some field, geology, work and. Then after they were done you, know they came back home we looked at the robot. For. Instance he's a ground-penetrating, radar and. They'll sweep over the ground you're just going back and forth yeah basically mowing the lawn. Taking. Thousands. Of measurements that frankly. Would have been really. Tedious really, you. Know difficult I think for humans, yeah. How. Did it do did it do well its, job well and. Another. Another, set of readings really. Mean. Robots robots they. Might. Run out of energy but, feeding. That's. True okay yeah so that was the after example of this yeah. For during, and after humans are there which, is kind of like surgery, you told me the other day yeah. It's. Like surgery to you know I mean you know obviously the brain surgeons not gonna do everything and and you know there's someone who's doing preparation.
And, They get the patient ready in the operating room and, ready and then the, brain, surgeon comes in. And. Then somebody cleans up afterwards, uh you, know and I think you. Know the idea that humans. Working with robots in space you, know it might they might fall out same kind of model you have robots that are doing things ahead, of time and maybe takes a long time mhm, and then the humans arrive. And do the parts that require humans, and you, know afterwards yeah. The robots come back and okay. Now that pesky humans are gone. Ninety. Seven once know should there be a robot that follows people around to make sure areas are safe when we're on Mars for example. Yeah. There, been other projects, here at NASA that have looked, at the idea of robots. Doing scouting. We're asking where they're really scouting, you, know not you know years in advance but just ahead of humans. Or maybe robots that are just behind them carrying tools or, supplies. Yeah, I think that kind of you know real-time support is also really, of interest to yeah, well. Three yeah. We've. Got lots of questions we're gonna definitely save time for those some. Comments, like the, life is yours calls, Esther be space Roomba. We've. We've had other comments to that you know people, have said hey you know you the, the spheres robots that you guys been working with obviously inspired by Star Wars and you know some some people have said well you know your new robot is a cube you know so was that inspired, by that other. What. Are its intentions. Just. Wanna make that clear. We. Present, question well we have a question here from coffee. FX. Saying, what are the biggest challenges in building a robot designed to operate in a space environment yeah that's a great question so actually, one of our biggest challenges in, it. Comes. From operating, near humans in safety, right of course so you, know we could probably make a robot that can fly real fast and, but. You. Know there are windows. So. We don't want to actually be. Actually. It's been pretty challenging coming. Up with a propulsion. System that's. Very nimble. Responsive. Mooses. Are like a reasonable, rate can move a reasonable amount of mass and yet, is safe right, so. You. Know those considerations, are really making a challenge. And. There I don't know are there Hardware, considerations. Like does. It have to be extra sturdy. The. Space station environment is, is actually a nice gentle, environment, I mean there's there's. There's very little gravity and it's really microgravity, they're essentially. Zero gravity and, it's like an office environment you, know it's shirtsleeve. But. The problem is getting, there because, to get there you have to get on a rocket right no rocket, shakes, you and shakes you and shakes you and so some. Of what we did over the past couple years was try to design Astro be to survive really, the shock of being, blast to the space station yeah yeah. We have to do vibration, testing, and it, still worked after we shook it. There. Are structural constraints. Electricity. Electrical. As well your sisters you have to be make, sure they're not going to shock any you know. Any. Other system. On the space station so, you have two pretty nice with all the other systems long space yeah, so you.
Know You, have to look at radiate like do you are you radiating, noise you, know are, you gonna interfere with, the other systems, on Space Station, and. Of course we control ask, me from the ground from Mission Control and. So that means we're sending you know data back. And forth yeah on the space station it's being you know set across the the wireless network the Wi-Fi network on space station it's of course you don't want to be a network hog. Are. You watching. Also. I know, I've talked to you guys about this I'm you know taking what you guys learn from spheres and applying that to ash will be in. Your design and testing for you. Know yeah absolutely so, one. Of our considerations. Was we didn't want to have astronauts, have to put, these, gas canisters, into Astra me that that's, a chore that we're, adding to the chores then take. Care of the robot so we made an all-electric, system and that can just plug itself in and is the only consumable, is electricity, you know battery power. Docking. Stations that can go recharge itself. You. Know I guess the other thing to the but we should have pointed out about spheres, is that in addition, to this you know carbon, dioxide propulsion, which is in a little tank it should change out it, requires a basically, these these, eight pack of double-a, batteries, yeah and, of, course that what that means is that the spheres couldn't, really run for a perfectly long time maybe, an hour or two and, then some. Ways have come over and change. The tank and change the batteries and so a stir be of core part of the design, was let's. Get away from all that just. Recharge itself and, then spheres also was not allowed to operate, by itself because the materials, are not are, there's, some flammable material, so it had, to have human. Oversight, at all times, yeah in case in person to fly. So. All the materials on aster be are either flame-retardant. Or they're they're such, a small amount that they aren't a hazard, or we cover them with a flame-retardant material. Oh, yeah that's pretty cool yeah. You. Were talking about communicating, with the robots so here's, maybe a bigger. General, question are these robots designed to communicate directly with the DSN and can, you tell us what the DSM is the. Deep. Space Network. It's what NASA and, frankly.
I Believe all. Spacefaring. Countries, use to communicate to, spacecraft robotics. Or, human in, space, you. Know I think as, we see robots, going to other places along, with humans then there'll be you know more and more use of the, the DSN, for communications. On. The space station of course we don't use the DSN because it's in Earth orbit we. Instead use another, system, it's. Called tea dress TDRs. Tracking. And data relay. Satellite. System I think, it's. A set of communication satellites. In Earth orbit and, it relays, the signals from the space station to. The, ground to. Mission Control and. So we use that to communicate to and from the space station all. Right, perfecting. Yes. There. Are dropouts. In comm between. The space station and ground yeah, so we also design Astra B to be able to operate through those, dropouts when it can't okay, to the ground no that's what yeah the autonomous nature, of, can. Carry on. We actually have some questions about career. Paths into, robotics, and things like that can you guys kind of share how you, got into robotics, and you know education you, have people who are interested in you know what, kind of you know programs, were you in in school and internships, and things like that so first off I might be a little bit biased but, you know. I. I. Think partially is because it is really fun working, with with robots yeah and as, Maria said earlier I mean robotics, and covers, lots of different kinds of domains lots, of different areas of study and so, there's, not one single path that you can go down or have to go down you can if, you like you know computers you can be a come, to this from computer science point of view if you like mechanical, design you, know mechanical engineering or Electrical Engineering. We need you all. Somebody. Wanted to know if, you can use programmers. Yes. Do. Web developers, help in robotics, oh yeah. Definitely, yeah, because. One of the key things we we, worry, about us you know how do we understand, what the robot is doing and how do we communicate to that how do we command it and so, in addition to building the robot system itself we'll build user interfaces you know all interfaces that run admission, of control that, talk to spacecraft well some of those are custom interfaces some of them I'll just run on web browsers might. Be web applications, and so, I think the answer is definitely yes you, know you can get involved if you do web programming hey you could do that for a robot too absolutely, yep very good good next GDS systems, yeah. But. Software design, here we have actually, a ground, data system, that that. We use for science playing so mission science planning oh yeah that's web-based cool, all right so a resounding, yes yes. A. Couple of people have asked about the cost of, space. Robots and when. Do you consider that that was the question do you consider the cost before after and yes, in, terms of like you know the robots themselves these, days at least for the ones inside a space station which is just like being in an office or a home. You know the-the-the components. Actually are not the main cost the main cost has to do with the the time spent developing and.
An. Engineer the engineering time but. You, know aster B as Maria said uses, a set of basically. Smartphone. Class, processors, and. We use off-the-shelf software. As well, Astra, bade runs both, Android, and Linux in. Terms of operating system and and. So it's not you know like we've custom, crafted, our own unique, you, know set of, software. Some, of the hardware obviously, is unique I'm a master because I'm look like anything you'd buy in a store. Machine, parts. After. You. Open. Up a la the inside I, recognize that I could buy that mm-hmm. All right cool. I, have. One that I like I'm curious about say the JP guy asks, is it possible to create self-sterilizing. Robots. To prevent contamination during. Exercise. A. Possible. Payload, for aster be in the near future we, had some folks come in to talk to us about its. Equipment. For sterilizing. Inside. The space station it's basically ultraviolet. Light I think light yeah UV some yeah, yeah right. The, it's basically like a panel, of LEDs, that. You just go and hold it up against the surface. And the light will sterilize. Okay. A UV. Light to. Kill off bacteria and. That. Could work it could work. You. Have a comment here from wall. Opposed very, cool y'all. Here's, a question from rest, are are. There any crawling, robots. Robots. That could easily manipulate things rather, than flying. Because. That uses you know a certain kind of energy yeah, yeah, well I mean we saw some of the other robots, that NASA has worked with in the past earlier, on the show um you, know I certainly. Think that all kinds of robots are needed, and. Of course you know robots like like like Robonaut 2 we. Had a few years ago I mean those were designed to be humanoid we're, but not to actually, at. One point was going to have a pair of these climbing, limbs so. Well. The legs are kind of backwards to the knees were kind of backwards based. To. Really like climb all over in the inside of Space Station so it would have two arms and two legs or. Two limbs and then you, could use all four of those to climb around now, unfortunately, we had, some some problems with the electrical, system and we brought Robonaut, to back down but, maybe in the future you'll see systems like Robonaut 2 that. Can climb yeah, actually. For ground, exploration. Yet there are snake, robots and, you know that again, bio-inspired, you, know. You. Know move, across the ground in different ways and can, be very efficient, yeah and so there's. A lot of work developing, these sort. Of bio-inspired robots, that's cool that's kind of related to this one but the life is yours asks what a robot like the Boston dynamic, ones work on Mars and the moon. Obviously. Boston Dynamics has, created lots of really interesting videos, showing their robots doing everything from gymnastics all. Kinds of things, you. Know with with running and jumping and hopping and you, know quite honestly you know NASA has, interest in those things those kinds, of you, know robot capabilities.
Because, There are places they're just not suited to wheels, they're, places where maybe, you can't fly if there's no atmosphere, you, know Astro be for example it does require error and the, Mars helicopter, requires error on Mars you can't really have that kind of flying robot on the moon. Robot. Doesn't. Require air to move and it's, probably designed, to operate in air for things like cooling, so you couldn't just transport, that that particular robot as. That's. Yeah, so you do have to do some redesign, so, that would be capable of operating on, those other in those other environments, but, the method, of locomotion certainly. Yeah, we, would look. At walking, and crawling robots, and jumping and hopping and. We'll. See. A. Couple, people have, asked. Again I think it's about Esther B how, did these robots propel themselves in zero-gravity in, a spaceship, so because, you just review, quickly. Base, system. You know this our particular robot there are other ways of propelling yourself yeah, inside. A space Space, Station but, after. Me in particular is fan based it has impelled, from actually. All. Right so. Actually right there's might be get so I can actually point things yeah so, again. The circular, opening, here there is an impeller fan, I. Can. Actually talk, to the microphone so, this circular, part here there's a fan inside here and that, brings the air into. This. Sort, of it's sort of like a box almost on the end of the robot this sort. Of black section, and. Then it goes it's. So it lightly pressurizes. The box, and then, these grilles, right. Here, it, looks like the vents in your cooler they look like new events. There's. A nozzle behind, that right that the grille is to keep astronaut. Fingers from going in. But. Behind there are these nozzles. That have flappers. That open and close and. So, that. Lets air out and you, have that at different amounts of different amounts right you open it a little bit yeah a little bit of air you open it wide you get more air and. Then so that the air moving. Out pushes. The robot in the opposite direction this. Is the whole magic of zero-g. Floating. And it's the you know equal. And opposite reaction. That's. How we we, propel ourselves around, Space Station awesome yeah, Apollo. Ng asks is it gyro stabilized. And. What does it's. Partially, quote gyro-stabilized. You. Know you have fans, here and there's actually a fan on both sides so it's it's counter-rotating, and. What's. Fascinating is, that depending, on how fast we spin this you know we can change how stable is in space so as we. Do docking, for example, and we want to move in very precisely, and. Very, you know it was very smooth motion will basically spin up the robot and you can actually hear it get louder yeah, and. It becomes more stable because. It's using its fans and how fast they're spinning to stabilize it it also gives a little more control Authority because there's a little more pressure a technical. Pressure so it can actually push itself a little bit harder. Keeps. Coming in we. Have one question from ill, Inc, our. Robots good for tending the growing, of plants in space oh, you know, this. Is actually a super timely, question. I. Went. To a NASA workshop, on how robots, could be used to, help grow crops, in space and. It's. Fascinating you think about all the challenges that you, know will be associated, with doing that I mean planting, and monitoring. And, tending. And harvesting, and, then processing, afterwards, yeah so. I think it's a great area for research and development not.
Ready Today, but. If, we want to send humans especially the deep space can't. Just package all the food right they're not just gonna be eating you know microwavable. Things they're. Gonna need fresh food and, it's. Really as anybody, who's grown anything. Knows. It takes a lot of effort so, I think robots definitely, are, needed for that mm-hmm. Some. Are already being used on earth you, have to tend, yeah. There's. This whole a, new interesting, you. Know category, called vertical farming you. Know what people want to like grow. Really. Crops inside their homes or their apartments, and a, small space. How. Can you grow vertically you have all these different like shelves, and like like, hydroponics. That go into. You, know help plants, grow but the problem is you still have to take care of the system itself you know things, always get clogged things, need to get harvested. So. I think we're gonna need robots for that. Here's. An interesting one. Fun. Things, so what types of prehensile. Tasks, do robots performance-based ie gripping. And grasping, tasks. Isn't. That swell, so we've, talked about the, perching. Are verging on to. Thing and. Save. Energy by, doing that also, we've been looking at prehensile, tasks that like a rover I'll, rinse in a wheeled robots, can. Do when it's on a planetary. Surface mm-hmm. For instance it can dig a trench right if you you. Drive three of the wheels and your fourth one you just kind of you turn it sideways and spin it a little bit differently you can actually dig. A trench, so. For instance say you want to lay some tables you know that you then bury, around. The habitat you, could use the robot to dig the trenches to put the cables in okay, that's. Kind of a gripping task because it's holding that's. Gripping. Prehensile. So there's no. But. In terms of grasping. Things you know we said earlier that Astra P only has an arm for perching. But. Obviously other systems, like Robonaut, 2 or. Even on the Camino the, canadarm2, with its dexter system, you, know has the ability to really reach out and and, physically, interact, with things you know maybe you're going to try to to, unscrew something, or to swap out some, module which needs to be changed for, repair purposes. Actually. Developing, a gecko inspired. Gripper. For. Astro baby is already actually on orbit and want yeah it just launched and, so they're, looking at being able to perch. On any surface, the. Universal, gripper I mean you think you know geckos, they can you know adhere, to any kind of surface, this. Not. So thrilled about that when they're in your home. This. New this new robot hand, basically, is meant to be the universal, thing so it can stick to any kind of surface any, kind of shape and. That's one of the things that over the next several, months we're hoping to see tested with a sharpie mm-hmm very, cool. We're. Gonna have to finish soon aren't we yeah. Do. You have a favorite question or should I throw one out there uh you. Go first okay pour, us an under so how could you perform real-life tests, parabolic. Flights perhaps that's, nearly, testing, like with punch punch, cards cost-wise well, how, would you how do you test these space robots on earth, well. So Astra, B we test it on a granite table it's, kind of an upside.
Down Air. Hockey table, huh where instead. Of the air coming out of the table it comes out of a puck and the, robot sits on top of this puck. It's. Like a frictionless, surface so, it can simulate, what. It's like to fly unfortunately, we can only do two dimensions, not through yeah yeah, we, don't have enough thrust to actually lift up off the table yeah but, we. Faster. And. As, a jaws we have these kind, of gantry, crane systems, that. Are used as gravity offset so, you basically have. I'm. You. Know the effects of gravity's you attach something you hang it from it and, then basically how you program the crane to move around, you know simulates, it being you, know basically in zero, gravity you. Can't use the propulsion system on your. Commands. The crane to move it. Propulsion. System work okay. Since. Since, the comment mentioned, parabolic, flights and we did do some tests you know a few years ago with spheres, the, smart spheres you, know and sort, of this you know. They. Briefly mimic. Seconds. At most periods, and so you, know from a engineering. You know point of view it's really hard or we say okay let's get ready let's get ready and then that comes, in like what can we learn in 15 seconds. It's. Probably the highest fidelity, way, we can you, know simulate, you. Know here on earth rate on, earth you know flying, but it's. Really hard. Well. Thank, you guys so much for joining us today I think that's about all the time we have today, huge. Thanks, to everyone, who joined us in the chat today. Thanks, for watching we'll see you next time.