Russia terminates robot Fedor after space odyssey

Russian robot Fedor cannot fulfill his mission to replace human astronauts on space walks, officials say
Russian robot Fedor cannot fulfill his mission to replace human astronauts on space walks, officials say
It's mission over for a robot called Fedor that Russia blasted to the International Space Station, the developers said Wednesday, admitting he could not replace astronauts on space walks.

"He won't fly there any more. There's nothing more for him to do there, he's completed his mission," Yevgeny Dudorov, executive director of robot developers Androidnaya Tekhnika, told RIA Novosti state news agency.

The silvery anthropomorphic robot cannot fulfil its assigned task to replace human astronauts on long and risky space walks, Dudorov said.

Fedor, or Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, was built to assist space station astronauts.

A storm of publicity surrounded Fedor's space odyssey and provided some light relief for Russia's beleaguered space industry.

In the last year the industry has suffered the unprecedented failure of a manned launch and continuing delays on construction of the Vostochny spacepad where President Vladimir Putin upbraided officials last week.

Too leggy

Fedor, officially Skybot F-850, rocketed to the ISS on August 22 in an unmanned spacecraft carrying supplies, entering the orbiting laboratory five days later.

On the station, the robot posed holding a Russian flag and for hugs with cosmonauts who were assigned to train it.

But Fedor turned out to have a design that does not work well in space—standing 180 centimetres (six feet) tall, its long legs were not needed on space walks, Dudorov said.

The Russian space agency said the legs were immobilised during the trip and Fedor was not programmed to grab space station hand rails to move about in microgravity.

Space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin said that the next-generation robot would not look so humanlike.

There appear to be other issues.

Footage of the robot ahead of the mission suggested it needed support to stand up.

Cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin complained to mission control that it took more than a dozen attempts to switch on the robot and suggested: "Maybe I should bash it with a hammer," RIA Novosti reported.

In a video on its Twitter feed, the robot is shown shakily holding a drill monitored by Ovchinin, who at one point takes it away.

Dudorov said developers were sketching out plans for a replacement "that must suit the demands of working on the outside of the ship", hoping "we will be the first" to send a robot on a spacewalk.

The Fedor robot was "the very first step," space expert Igor Marinin told the National News Service agency, while next-generation robots will "be more technically advanced" and have "more serious tasks."

Gun-toting

The robot touched down back on Earth at the weekend.

A final tweet posted in an account in the robot's name on Tuesday said that it was at the developers' plant outside Moscow.

"Now I'm in my case. I await directions for further tests after the flight," it said.

Fedor was originally intended as a rescue robot for the emergencies ministry. It was shown shooting at targets from two handguns in a video posted by space agency chief Rogozin.

It was not the first robot to go into space. In 2011, NASA sent up Robonaut 2, a humanoid developed with General Motors that had a similar aim of working in high-risk environments.

It was returned to Earth in 2018 after experiencing technical problems.

In 2013, Japan sent up a small robot called Kirobo along with the ISS's first Japanese space commander. Developed with Toyota, it was able to hold conversations—albeit only in Japanese.


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Sep 11, 2019
The Russians have completely lost it.

Sep 11, 2019
Well, they gave it a shot....

Sep 11, 2019
This is a good outcome, as anybody who has seen 2001 : A Space Odyssey will attest to;

"I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

The robot's last tweet should have been;

Daisy, Daisy,
Give me your answer, do!
I'm half crazy,
All for the love of you!


Good riddance! :)

Sep 11, 2019
In the last year it has seen the unprecedented failure of a manned launch and continuing delays on construction of the Vostochny spacepad where President Vladimir Putin upbraided officials last week.
The machine was ordered mothbaIled after internaI polIing indicated P ut in would likely lose the next eIection to the botnaut.

sjm
Sep 11, 2019
I think the question to ask is what have we learned. Robotic systems in space exploration is critically important and thus warrants more than an "oh well" reaction.

Sep 11, 2019
Why do otherwise apparently intelligent engineers and scientists insist on making robots that look like people? Especially robots that are supposed to operate in space. It's dumb. Humans are adapted for gravity, for starters.

Sep 11, 2019
Well, they gave it a shot....

And, now it's time to give it a bullet.

Sep 11, 2019
I have worked around robots before. I have seen robots that carry in-process wafers between different parts of a wafer fab, following magnetic strips on the floor, conveniently painted so the humans can see where they are. They play a little tune as they trundle along; this is so the humans know to get out of the way. One would not want to cause a robot carrying a couple million bucks worth of wafers to have a bump. One would never be allowed in the fab again.

They didn't have arms or legs, or even eyes. They conformed well to the KISS principle.

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