NASA image: Prototype robot with smartphone to test 3-D mapping, navigation inside space station

July 10, 2014
Credit: NASA/Ames

Orbital Sciences Corporation's Cygnus spacecraft will carry 3,293 pounds (1,493.8 kg) of cargo on its upcoming commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station, including crew supplies, nanosatellites, student research and this prototype free-flying space robot equipped with a smartphone, known as Smart SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites).

NASA has been testing SPHERES on the space station since 2011. This summer, astronauts will upgrade these existing space robots to use Google's "Project Tango" smartphone, which features a custom 3-D sensor and multiple cameras. NASA will then use the Smart SPHERES to test free-flying 3-D mapping and navigation inside the space station.

NASA is developing the Smart SPHERES to perform work on the that requires mobile sensing, such as environmental surveys to monitor levels of radiation, lighting and air quality. They also will be used to monitor inventory and conduct experiments. The development and testing of Smart SPHERES is funded by the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Explore further: NASA 'Smart SPHERES' tested successfully on international space station

Related Stories

The SPHERES have eyes

April 24, 2013

(Phys.org) —It looks like something out of a sci-fi movie...free-formation-flying robotic spheres hovering around the International Space Station with goggles on. The Visual Estimation and Relative Tracking for Inspection ...

Smart SPHERES getting a software upgrade

February 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Smart devices – such as tablets and phones – increasingly are an essential part of everyday life on Earth. The same can be said for life off-planet aboard the International Space Station. From astronaut ...

Recommended for you

Rare transit of Mercury to take place on 9 May

April 28, 2016

On 9 May there will be a rare transit of Mercury, when the smallest planet in our Solar System will pass directly between the Earth and the Sun. The last time this happened was in 2006, and the next two occasions will be ...

Curiosity Mars rover crosses rugged plateau

April 28, 2016

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has nearly finished crossing a stretch of the most rugged and difficult-to-navigate terrain encountered during the mission's 44 months on Mars.

Young star V1331 Cygni unveils its violent past

April 27, 2016

(Phys.org)—V1331 Cygni is a young variable star that lies in the constellation Cygnus, approximately 1,800 light years away from our planet. The star is known to have a circumstellar disk surrounded by a flattened gaseous ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.