To take space exploration to another phase, NASA has partnered with a small robotic company in Texas to advance its decades of work in developing humanoid robots. The agency hopes that these advanced robots may be sent to orbit or land on planets to assist the astronauts with their tasks on the surface of any celestial body.
The Texas-based firm Apptronik Inc. has been collaborating with NASA for a long time under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract program to advance the sophistication of Apollo, which is a humanoid robot that the firm is developing. The primary goal of this humanoid robot is to carry out terrestrial tasks on other planets such as manufacturing, home healthcare, and logistics support.
Based on the progress made by Apptronik Inc. so far, NASA has developed a special interest in accepting the use of Apollo and other similar robots as assistants for astronauts living and performing tasks in orbit, the moon, and possibly Mars. The agency is hoping that these humanoid robots may even operate as remote-controlled avatars on distant space words for Earth-based human operators to regulate.
What You Should Know About This Humanoid Robot
Apptronik revealed that the Apollo humanoid robot is specifically designed to handle logistics tasks. The company said on its website that the robot is standing 5’8″ tall and weighs 160 pounds (73 kilograms). Apollo also can operate for about four hours per battery pack and has a payload capacity of 55 pounds (25 kg). Currently, the company is focusing on serving Earth-based customers including people handling retail operations, manufacturing, and warehousing.
However, NASA is about to extend Apptronik’s operations to the stars. However, unlike humanoid robots built for Earth-based operations, Apptronik would likely reprogramme its humanoid robots to possess the physical customization that will enable NASA to achieve its goals in space. Currently, Apollo possesses great flexibility, autonomous functions, varying dexterity levels, and other features. However, more features will be added to the humanoid robots to improve their functionality for space exploration.
To ensure that the company reaches great development progress within a specific time, NASA is assisting the firm with its decades of expertise in robotics. With NASA’s assistance, Apptronik can develop Apollo to improve its robotic mobility and software design principle to guarantee safe human-robot interactions in deep space.
“By applying NASA’s expertise in human-safe mobile robots to commercial projects, together we can spur innovation in this important field,” Shaun Azimi, head of the dexterous robotics team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said in a NASA statement. “We are proud to see our efforts result in robotics technology that will benefit the American economy and assist humans in working safely and productively here on Earth and potentially in space exploration as well.”
The Role Of Humanoid Robots In Space
If space agencies must reach a great milestone in exploring other celestial worlds, they must need the assistance of humanoid robots. Currently, NASA and other space agencies have successfully put rovers and landers on the moon and Mars. These robotic vehicles are meeting the mission objective of these space agencies.
However, during human space exploration to the moon or Mars, NASA will need more assistance from a more advanced robotic system. Hence, this is where the humanoid robots come into the picture. During the crewed exploration of the moon and Mars, the astronauts will need a lot of assistance from these robots. The hostile nature of the two celestial bodies can affect the crew greatly if they expose themselves to unforgiving environments.
Hence, robots will play a vital role in this mission for safer and more efficient operations of human exploration on the moon and Mars. Since NASA is looking forward to establishing a long-term goal on these planets, the agency would depend on Humanoid robots to handle advanced tasks on the lunar or Martian surface.
Hence, the need for the crew will not be exposed to any danger associated with handling perilous tasks. This implies that humanoid robots will make crewed exploration of the moon and Mars much safer for humans. Currently, Apptronik is yet to commence with the design of these robots.
However, NASA’s decades of expertise in robotics will help the company reprogram the robots to execute a new task whenever the need arises. Since humanoid robots would handle complex tasks on the surface of other terrestrial celestial bodies, the human astronauts and Earth-based operators would focus more on accomplishing other important scientific pursuits instead of digging up rock samples or building a shelter.
Other Needs For The Humanoid Robots
Aside from assisting astronauts on the moon and Mars, these robots can also assist to operate and maintain manufacturing and mining facilities in space worlds. These operations in other worlds could provide native resources in situ and reduce the cost of maintaining these missions for NASA.
On long-term lunar or Martian exploration goals, the agency will find it cheaper to build human colonies with concrete obtained from lunar regolith instead of shipping the materials from Earth. Hence, adding humanoid robots to future NASA missions would provide a sustainable human presence on the lunar surface and one day, the Martian surface as well.
NASA is collaborating with Apptronik, a Texas-based company to build humanoid robots that will assist astronauts in colonizing the moon and Mars. With the assistance of this technology, the crew will focus more on important scientific tasks instead of digging out rock samples or building a shelter on the moon and Mars. What do you think about this futuristic approach to building a sustainable human presence on the moon and Mars? Check out these best space gifts for your loved ones.