NASA in Silicon Valley Live - Space Robots
Hi everybody <music> welcome to another episode of nasa in silicon valley live. I am your host tiffany blake. If this is your first time tuning into the show the nasa silicon valley live is a conversational show out of nassar's ames research center or we talk about all the nerdy nassar news. You need to know <hes> today with me. I have the awesome abby taber. Hello tiffany as hi everybody. I'm your co host today. Avi taber and we are simultaneously live right now on twitch youtube facebook periscope but if you want to join in the chat and leave questions for our awesome guest today need to do that on twitch so go to w._w._w. Doc twitch dot tv slash nasa so today. I really excited. We're talking about space. Robots space robots cited. This is going to be fun. One and we have a couple of amazing guests here today. So why don't we go ahead and meet them. Can you guys tell us your name what you do here at ames sure <hes> i'm rea- bullet. I'm robotics engineer and i billed space robots pretty sweet all right terry fog. I'm the chief here at nasa ames and i dream up the robots that maria then has to go build an awesome job description. Thanks for joining us. You guys <hes> before we get into the show. I want to 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 five years from now in in twenty twenty four. We're planning to send humans to the moon as part of our artists program and this clock is counting down the days hours minutes and seconds until until twenty twenty four 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 oil you can visit w._w._w. Dot nasa dot gov slash artemis. Hey let's get started okay. I'm excited so <hes> i think let's start with just the basics like let's the history of you know humans and robots and space. Thank you tell us a little bit. I mean nasa has used robots in space for a long time to carry out planetary exploration. We've sent robots to mars <hes> and we still have robots on mars to date of course but <hes> in peril to that this been this real development <hes> frankly for a long time i am of robots that work with humans <hes> and they are used <hes> outside of <hes> spacecraft like outside of the station <hes> and more recently. We've been working with robots inside the spacecraft as well right really closer together right yeah really awesome. So how about we talk a little bit about you know how they work together yeah yeah how exactly robots and humans interact yeah. I think a great thing about we talk about robots and humans together. It's not just so how how do i make that robot you know just off and do something but this whole notion of humans and robots working as a team and it's something i think <hes> we're gonna see much more of as we go afford and the future this whole idea that we can use <hes> robots <hes> to to work together with humans to perform work in space or on planetary surfaces <hes> and the idea that she might have all kinds of different robots and all kinds of humans working together with those robots and the same way that a team for example football team has specialists you yeah you play to the strengths of the different members of the team. So in this case you play the strength of the humans versus the robot good at certain things humans are better at other other things so they're not necessarily doing the same time you were telling us earlier about the three ds it's pretty common phrase in in robotics the threes which is dull dirty and dangerous <hes> those are the cases where you want to send a robot in <hes> rather than a human yeah. <hes> 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. Doing you know if it's it's something where it's a dangerous situation <hes> again you. It's sad but you might not mind losing a robot. I talk to robots by far less than human yeah so could a dangerous job. Be something out in space like leaving sure yeah yeah. I mean i think beyond just a dangerous. I mean there are some things you know like. Maria was saying that <hes> you know really place the strength of robots <hes> you know there are some things they require moving very large pieces of equipment or or other things in space that are just too massive too heavy for for human too yeah and sometimes take longer yeah it might take longer to very precise placement can place the items very precisely with a robot but just like an any any team you know i think i think if you have a combination of humans and robots that can work well together. You know that allows you to do much more than just any individual thing person by themselves yeah and <hes> 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 even teams exactly it's going to be team so right sample awesome cool so we have robots working outside right of spacecraft robots working inside spacecraft right so let's talk about some of those what are some historical robots that have worked on space station or with space shuttle canada arm space shuttle fifty foot robot arm <hes> that was used for things like <hes> which we see right now i i used to deploy things like satellites <hes> two very precisely <hes> place <hes> equipment for example when when <hes> when we were integrating creating the space station this was actually a pretty big arm is like a fifty foot long arm. Wow was able to move <hes> thirty two thousand pounds. That's basically like moving a school bus. Ashley pick up and move and position school bus that size august so that's a pretty big robot to building something mike how was able to hold astronauts in place while they're working are working right unfunny. Go floating the trust. It gives the asphalt leverage as well the think about push against exactly. That's an eating <hes>. Here's a cool one robot to yourself yourself mentioned earlier that robots can work outside a spacecraft so we're not too <hes> was a a humanoid robot that we set up a few years ago to the space station. <hes> in the picture victor you can see here is holding something which looks like a magic wand but that's actually an air flow measurement device actually has a great name what the device actually is called called the the sensors actually called a veloce calc <hes>. It's really meant to to be us inside the space station for monitoring airflow here. We were doing some experiments to see how a robot robot like a robot could carry out tasks which are normally done by humans does humanoid robots can use the same tools as astronaut so you don't have to retool everything. I think that <hes> veloce calc instrument is usually used by astronauts so driven out because it has hands can actually hold it us at the same way an astronaut not right and the benefit of course of a robot for doing this kind of jobs. It doesn't get tired of holding somebody many times over and over and it's not gonna complain. The astronauts might complain about i wasn't space. I i wouldn't care what i would say. Hey take measurements of the airflow sure i'll do ask what about some current robots in space that we have <hes> so <hes> there's fears which is a testbed. Actually i have a model here on me and this one's near and dear to our heart here at aims of course it is right so this is a model of his fears which are currently on orbit. There's three of them on the space station. Listen <hes> and they've been used as a test bed for guest scientists so <hes> developers technology developers on on earth like from academia uh-huh commercial <hes> from inside of nasa developed technologies that they would like to fly in zero g and so they can actually deploy it on spheres which would then fly them around inside the space station. So what we see here is actually the mounting point where you can put a payload on yeah. Yeah you know one interesting thinking about these is that they fly around by using actually carbon dioxide so there's normally a tank the plugs into these and they have little little nozzles basically <hes> we'll lease controlled puffs of carbon dioxide so basically these little circular really basically puffs its way around inside space station. Oh oh cool very cool. You've been on orbit for over a decade. Yeah reality is helping national nuts for over a decade here. You know research researchers. Were all around the world yeah. That's awesome so yes kind of size volleyball. We've been saying flies itself around. It holds experiments okay and it's as if that wasn't enough you guys upgraded your spheres at one point right. Yeah tell us so. We have a product called smart spheres where where we <hes> we want to see what we can do to improve <hes> the the compute power on board the sensing power onboard because the these were built you know fourteen fifteen years go so <hes> so the sensors the computer very old very out of date and then so we want to be able to kind of speed them up and try <hes> some <hes> robotics experiments on board and so we actually flew this which i'm not wanna. Maybe this is a this is you might recognize us as a smartphone and <hes> this is actually a nexus s smartphone <hes> which you probably can't find anywhere to stayed the arc de back in two thousand ten and we had to make some modifications. It doesn't look like the off the shelf thing although i will say this started off. <hes> you know at a local electronic store was actually purchased and electronic store. We bought this. We need <hes> certificates. They had to make some modifications. You know you know you worry about <hes>. Obviously people worry about breaking their smartphones and you know they cover their screens and of course week worry about that but we didn't want the shards if there were any fly off right so this is actually some teflon tape on here. It's got very sort of sleek battery pack here because we had some concerns about putting lithium battery pack into space and those kinds of things but the great thing about this is it's very compact it gave us a cameras and built alton accelerometers and has high bandwidth wireless data transfer yeah supergirl that ultimate brain upgrade the next time on pimp your robot rate none as also the fun fact about outs fears is that it was based on idea from star wars right outright based on the training droid the first star wars movie when learning how to use a lightsaber and it's great star wars inspired robot. The is actually came up. <hes> you know from the original place where we're spirits was developed and that was at i._t. And professor dave miller challenges in his his engineering class. Here's here's the thing and star wars. Can you build me one. I want to make me one excellent 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. You showed us before for canada arm. There's canada-arm to write fifty eight foot 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 <hes> commercial cargo vehicles so what we see here. Is it <hes> it's it's being used to dock the the spacex dragon capsule yeah and this arm is is is even as mary said even longer than the original candida arm which was on the space shuttle this one <hes> also <hes> is a really big arm. It can actually move <hes> you know eight times more than originally yeah the only one school eight school buses time well because it moves space station modules actually able what to do that. It's really cool the way it can inchworm around the station so it can wherever it needs to be deployed. They're holding spots around the outside of the modules inchworm itself across. That's amazing that really fascinating robot because it's actually a collection section of you know a bunch of different robots fit together and there's the big arm itself <hes> but there's also a separate <hes> set of robot arms that can attach the end and those those arms from the system called dexter <hes> or if you like acronyms it's the the s p d m special purpose dexterous manipulator dexterity the dextrous fine context but it's basically allows this large arm to have the ability to to do fine quote find extras motion so you have two smaller arms attached to this bigger arm and those go onto a mobile base and so now you have this big large systems that can really move all kinds. The things are out outside of the space station. Well pretty handy yeah. That's sounds good. What about simon simon with a c. Fireman i'm in with the that was built by the german space agency and an airbus <hes> we see it climbing <hes> it's meant to be a personal assistant to astronauts <hes> on a station so see there with a alexander i who was commander her on station about a year ago summer and they ran the experiment. <hes> simon actually runs watson <hes> so it's similar to you know the smart mart speakers that you know <hes> add something to my shopping list or play my favorite song it is it is that the <hes> it can be helpful on you know <hes> if they need to have a procedure brought up <hes> so <hes> you know help them with different tasks that they're doing and your personnel robotic assistant i can you know voice commanded yeah. It seems handy station what you need from it also check. I think we have another hair and blah. The most adorable herbals impo is built by the japanese space agency <hes> and it's meant to be basically a floating camera can and move around <hes> inside the japanese experiment module <hes> and take over some of the sort of videography chores of astronauts so a lot of times <hes> astronauts astronauts need two documents activities you know so they're filming other astronauts doing things and so <hes> this little robot can take take over that job. Oh some great yeah. I have a question here before we go to our rapid fire questions when we're gonna take as many as possible <hes> but sham family 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 <hes> i mean i just like the there's no one perfect robot. <hes> you know for everything. There's not one specific way that any of these robots would be operated. You know they could be controlled. From from the earth they could operate <hes> you know autonomously or they could be operated also by astronaut so yes yes and actually spheres that we were looking at a minute ago. It does do some things autonomously on space station rate and turn certain extent we have video of docking and undocking no here's oh really okay spheres. Somebody experiments that we've done. What's is fears you know we've we've tried to allow to operate <hes> <hes> and fly around inside the space station by itself. It can be used to carry out things like <hes> interior surveys days can fly with various specific locations. Take readings locations and then fly on yeah do a video of that. Maybe that's what i was thinking of yeah. Let's see if we can get that video. Oh look narratives so there. You see smarts fears. This is yeah. This was a different smartphones so we worked with not just the next assess but this was a project tangos smartphone <hes> that we worked on in partnership with <hes> our friends next door over at google <hes> and here is a picture. This is a video here. Are you guys you see a smartphone on the front of spheres flying around inside of the space station <hes> it's actually going back and forth back and forth flying lawnmower pattern and this is what mission control sees even 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. It's flying and the way points that it's going back and forth worth between so here's flying towards point seven <hes> at the lower right there. There's an image that shows the representation of what the cameras 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 yeah awesome. It's so cool so there's your answer to that. We have a comment from <hes> <hes> snow the end. I heart robots your to heart robots. Yeah there were awesome others. Go canada harm others. We jump right into our rectifier session session emphasis on the quick trying to get a lot in our eight tiffany. Yes i have one so let's say for fears fierce. How long did it take to actually create. The robot actually designed that <hes> well <hes> as i said this. This was a project that started m._i._t. With <hes> with an actually an undergraduate engineering class <hes> and so the students worked on that <hes> extensively that led to a number of different prototypes and eventually those were sent up to the space bay station <hes> 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 <hes> there are a 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 <hes> a fair amount of time especially with that and then and of course once they get on the space station you know just because you get rain back every single day every single robot that goes up into space. We're still learning how to improve rueben and make them better <hes> a comment about into ball from airplane man nineteen ninety-seven so cute are- yes the j._p. Guy has a question about learning and training to do things. He's like. You guys do it. 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 onyx is it's very broad field so you can contribute to a robotics project. You know with any kind of background. Almost <hes> product product designers per grammars <hes> electrical engineers mechanical engineers so really it's whatever you love to do you know what what would you i prefer to to do and then you know you can contribute then to a robotics team. That's awesome. That's good news could do a lot of different things yeah. I i think a great thing today which didn't exist a few years ago is 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 research projects that you can contribute to <hes> and so i think the important thing is just to get involved <hes> and not worry about whether or not this isn't a university or at home. I mean the robots at home. Get a little raspberry. Pi and legal set and get started. Yeah nice the more <hes> trick prime queer to your back. I saw the floating square robot assistant astor be or maybe it was the other one. I forget the name. The assistant robots testing on the international space station. You're wanting to get that in there since you anticipated aided and of course we had the speed tv net says on the assets. Do they have something they can talk to you or ask questions like alexa google home home of course that was siamese behind simon those things we needed there to here's a good question godzillas asks can we expect fact robots to take over the role of astronauts on spacewalks and conduct things such as maintenance well. I think you know major is one of those things that we really want to see. See robots <hes> you know take on an increasing role because so much of the time of astronauts today is spent doing preventive and corrective maintenance on board space station and so we'd love to have robots be able to take spacewalks but right now we have these large arms that are actually used to do some amount of maintenance external to the space the station <hes> without astronauts awesome. Do you have another one. You wanna hit it see here. Robotics competitions yes often to mars that has been on a sphere is zero robotic m._i._t. Developed <hes> the sixers exactly <hes> and it's a middle school and high school softball competition so awesome the preliminaries done relation <hes> you program <hes> the spheres to perform certain tasks <hes> the so the preliminary rounds are done in simulation and and then the finalists get to fly their code is on the international space wow real excellent middle school middle and high school and it get started early. Yeah it was not sending code to the space station. I was in middle school. I don't wanna the say my age melrose park exactly <hes> well. Here's another question here <hes> for kelly cama d._c. Appoint where robot robotics will be able to perform enough tasks where humans means won't be needed. I s i often ask that question about 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 impartially because you know we as humans want to also explore <hes> but it's also the case is to that you know. We can't do everything by ourselves and just like any team. <hes> you know is more than one person involved and i think there'd be more than you know one human in one robot and more than just robots really i think the future is humans and robots together. Yeah young awesome yeah cool. How about when our question from the chat we we move on which i have now lost space t._v. Net hello wants to know what shape is the best robots zero gravity. Is there an animal animal nature inspiration that work. There seems to be a lot of years there yeah well. I think part of that is you know we we like for at least for flying robots to have some sort of symmetry to them because he can fly in any direction in space <hes> sometimes i think robot designed draws inspiration from animals <hes> the biology obviously evolved all kinds of different shapes different forums and we'd like to take advantage of that but we also sometimes draw inspiration as we said from like science fiction. <hes> you know the idea that people come up with in in hollywood for robots. I mean sometimes the gate which we could uh-huh shape. Also it depends on what functionality you're looking for so you build it so that its most efficient at the job you want to accomplish so that's that's what drives that drives the all right that makes sense well speaking of science fiction. Okay my question for us. We see robots all over in movies and t._v. Shows comex everything everything. What are your favorites. That's easy. I mean for me you know my favorite robot canine <hes> which comes from doctor who canine was <hes> the doctors robot dog and <hes> it had basically a supercomputer built in inside and little laser that knows <hes> canine no question. Have you built a dog dog robot yet but if somebody had one i have to say that one of our previous robots in our group was names came i in after the doctor yes name yeah. I don't really play favorites. I don't really have a favor. The outside of my favorites are real robots some fans among your position all right right well speaking of your favorites well. No let's come to that in just a moment's. Okay you want us to talk about characteristic. Yeah like what kind of qualities we still look for in a robot we look for we look for robots. That can really help out especially. We're talking about humans and robots in space <hes> into really work well together. <hes> and i think just like here on earth. There's no single definition of what a team is. The same is true in space in fact we could have robust that work <hes> say before humans robots work after humans <hes> or maybe even in parallel <hes> warren support so the idea is that you could have a team in all kinds of different settings <hes> so sometimes we build robots to do things that <hes> might take a long period of time. You haven't work either before or after other times we want robots can interact more sort of like human <hes> pacing so just like we're talking. We'd like robots react to us to do you remember the other day terry his comparison like raising we we spend all of our time here at work you know thinking about and trying to build robots you know sometimes. I'll admit it's it's frustrating. It's it's not unlike you know trying to raise. Kids grow up to be you know good autonomous team members to work with you <hes> and <hes> <hes> you know sometimes. I'm not sure if it's more or less challenging than trying to build robots to do the same thing. I will say that mike my kids have grown up to be you know far more autonomous thomas and independent disappointment because i want my robots students days the times. We say that i would say sometimes i look at my kids. Why did they end but anyway and my robot behave that way. Vacuum cleaner checks to get wedged under the couch potato dana life of building robots. Should we talk about one of your wife uh-huh trask nutrition that's right. This is what we call this our stunt double all the stumped on the street with the name of basil some in general these robots are called astra be or ashby's <hes> but the each have their own name and the color yes so this stunt double model you see is return it so you can see the color better is orange mm-hmm and is called killer killer bee <hes> but we also have three of these <hes> on space station currently and they are named bumble which it just blew honey which is yellow and queen which is green so cute. Oh you see them on camera. We always know which one it is of the color yeah so yeah so this is. This is my my favorite robot. We just finished building these launching them on very exciting and been eddie your favorite because the past four years of my life yes exactly fair. No when ask how long it takes to build something well abby well. It's been now almost five years since we started but <hes> but we finish building them and launching them it within those five five years so so there are now starting to operate within the five or so about like little over four years to build the actual flight units and so i can. I can tell you a little bit about how these work the number one question i get one talking about asked was how did they move in right so first of all <hes> <hes> after we only works inside the space station because it needs air its fanbase propulsion <hes> there are two fans on board <hes> <hes> these sort of circular can see it better. Go <hes> the the circular opening that you see on the side. Maybe it that way a little malaria steering here okay the circular thing. We'll looks kinda like a speaker. That's a there's an employer fan in there so that pulls air in and lightly pressurize the the propulsion module and then those grills that you see there's there's two on every side twelve total. That's right those are talking of the nozzle. Listen they open and close <hes> releasing some of that pressurized air and that's how it pushes itself around space station right so yeah. It's it's very light pressure. It's only about point one psi over the ambient <hes> station pressure so very safe. It's not gonna blow up or anything feel a win. They will fill in fact. We've seen it when it's operating on orbit. We'll see like hair related living so yeah you definitely see the air is moving yeah but it's not gonna push them out lead acid for this to to push yeah cool and then of course the other question we always get is how does it how does it no word. Is you know how's it move and navigate and not crash into the walls and tat sort of central white section that you see right there. It is the the heart and soul of it. It's the core module <hes> insider three <hes> <hes> cellphone class computers so pretty much the same as as your cell phone <hes> and uses a camera cameras but the main camera the navigation camera on this end right there <hes> it uses camera to look at features inside the space station so it has a map wrap that he keeps on board of features it knows where those features should be in the station and then as its flying around compares what it currently sees to that map to figure out where it is just like you know. Humans recognized landmarks understands where we are. This does that but in a much more precise manner yeah and <hes> you know i i i think the other thing that really was kind of you know pointing at is that we've added a whole bunch of cameras on here. That's really unable to fly around and know where or it is. Some of these are optimized for really sort of like the close in docking <hes> that you might wanna do with robot accuracy. <hes> and others are for just sort of like free flight when you really just trying to worry about hey am i going to be in the center of a module or near a wall and that kind of thing and then the last thing i like to point out on this model model. <hes> 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 <hes> of to carry around other experiments okay and so there's a lot of open space <hes> conspiracy my hand coming through right there in the bottom and top allows other technologies <hes> to plug into this robot and we will fly you around wherever you want to go and space station. <hes> take your experiment your equipment. We'll take you around space station michael if if people out what they're have an idea for a great you know mechanism or a sensor or something else that can be built for s._a._p. And you can go to w._w._w. Dot nasa dot gov slash astro b. a. s. t. r. o. B. 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 the payload bays. You know how you can really develop software for this. <hes> actually some of some of our interesting experiments are just going to be <hes> just purely software people right and we upload into one or more of the processors on board are payload sure we have <hes> one of the payloads <hes> is is. Is this a <hes>. It's actually a robot arm. <hes> you can see the gripper here and we can open the gripper up here. <hes> actually you can hear the motors <hes> sir i love that can hear some more of that like the nessa in that but this is this is a payload for just like any other and it can plug in handerson. Maria sure you wear it would go right here. In the top. Payload bay just slotted in here all right right these couple of levers here that the astronauts can can switch to lock it into place so it unfo- how would be used approaching arm so it has it. Has this gripper on the front right here. <hes> you know i can actually open this up here. <hes> this is designed to <hes> really you know reach in and grab something you can take a bottle of water and grab the bottle of water here the inside the space station <hes> they're all these handrails there all summer inside the space station and the astronauts actually reach out grab onto them to hold on hold themselves in position or to push themselves on onto the next area and we can take advantage of all the handrails there <hes> for astra be to grab on to <hes> and that's why what we refer to this as the perching arm you know it's it's meant to perch onto things inside the space station grabs hold the handrail we can turn the propulsion modules off save energy and because there's a camera we have a high def camera on the front end <hes> and 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. We're okay so you can actually still move the can't even though the robot is kind of grabbed onto something flying around can still point the camera and camera can still be working right. I have a question here uh-huh m._d._m. What serious mission aspects can be worked by robots such as abby. Oh well all kinds of things you know this in addition into being a research platform <hes> you know that's gonna follow onto spheres is also for us meant to be something we can test out <hes> various things that we'd like future robots to do inside of <hes> spacecraft or maybe even future habitats on planets so for example <hes> this robot is going to carry a different payload built by <hes> our friends down at nasa johnson and texas. That's an r._f._i._d. Scanner so basically we can go around and use the free flying robot to take inventory <music> of things that we have tagged with you know little little tags just like in your credit card your credit card reader grocery stores <hes> just to do inventory story so inventories a great task for robots. <hes> another is just monitoring the environment to just trying to assess you know like light levels or sound levels or air quality <hes> once we could put different sensors on e._s._p._n. Do that <hes> all kinds of interesting things that you can use a robot for you know help take care of the environment arment inside of your spacecraft and kind of freeing up the time for the astronauts right because he's been a lot of time doing tasks like the inventory and monitoring and if you have a rat a robot doing that it frees them up to do things right. I think i think i think today <hes> maybe we'll talk about this morning and later on in the the show here but <hes> today on the space station. It's a place where we have. You know astronauts. All the time has been continuously manned for a long time now <hes> but the astronauts actually spend a lot of their time doing maintenance lot of routine maintenance <hes> some of it is just you know preventive. You know it's time to actually change 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 the astronauts not to spend so much of their time right oh i i have a couple of comments about esther v. That's one weird looking r._t._d. To agree okay i want one. It was kind of like a companion cube. Yes it's been pointed out to us the resemblance in the past john q. We have a question here <hes> this is how do you charge or recharge the astros and excellent question. We didn't even get into that so you can turn the robot around and yes so astra be actually has a docking station on <hes> on space station that lets us the road actually autonomously plug itself in so it's kind of your room but in space i can go out and fly tease where it takes measurements and does guess science and then when it's starts the power starts to run low <hes> has a docking port on the back which we see here <hes> and he can actually back itself into its its docking station and recharge <hes> and we also give it an ethernet connection to the space station <hes> local area network when we do that so we get a little bit of higher bandwidth bandwidth on vacation. Oh yeah okay so you could download any data exactly. We just should be check out the video of that. You're talking about yeah totally here. We go this is this is astros. First autonomous undock <hes> we see astronaut divvied there <hes> giving us the play by play. That's not a toothbrush. He's holding <hes> head ed. Everybody was excited. I thomas motion and then here we see it docking first autonomous docking motion so just back to self up into the doc <hes> we'll see a little light. Come on telling us that there we go. We've got a good connection. <hes> this was big celebration for us. The team running this and the and crew was very excited to so it was very excited by that awesome accepts yeah. What did the astronaut astronauts say about working with astra. Be you know really positive comments for them. I mean for them really it's it's a new teammate in space <hes> and <hes> i re- recall the first time <hes> you know that asri was at least the first astronaut was undocked. It was kind of like you know christmas and space in a new team mate. I've got a new roommate. All one and i can teach you how to actually be good good roommate. Get your new cell phone and you're pulling out the latest thing to have to read the manual it. Can i just play with it so we've certainly had that we when we were first building it it was very much a concern that we would be good teammates that we would be for instance too loud you don't i wanna stay quiet and we don't wanna be annoying because of the fan it's going to make a constant noise as we want to minimize that and so far hard the feedback we've gotten from from astronauts is that it's it's very reasonable. It's not too loud and they actually like it because they can hear it coming niko go on some of the fun things to say. The other day about the astronauts are guiding it around. I think so testing one of the first activities we had to do is build the map of the inside of the space station on the ground but you need to know would it really looks like you know from the robust point of view so astronaut was actually flying manually flying around so that we could collect imagery data while he was moving around because we don't know where we are yet so we can't fly ourselves annually moved us back and forth and he was great he you said it was like teaching a child. One hand talking excellent say it was really interesting and exciting watching you guys as you know do these tests in the lab here and didn't excitement i mean the astronauts are excited and then the team's excited here. It's really really cool to experience kind of i within the back like we've spent a lot of time working through the design and development of a vast ruby and i think for the team you know c._n._n. Space was just hugely really rewarding was really great to see that actually happen and i can give you some breaking news that just yesterday morning very early in the morning. We we have a test with australia with with bumble the blue the blue robot flying it around it flew. It's an autonomously operated. It ran a whole bunch of plans undocked itself flu around came back to dock early great. It has to see that independence. It really is like yeah. Go exactly the thing there is. We don't want to wait twenty years for it to grow and get a college degree man yeah yeah all right so we've been talking about how these robots helping astronauts today right so what about looking a little little bit ahead because right now nasa is busy working to get humans to the moon in twenty twenty four. That's the program could you maybe summarize for people with arta. It misses all about and then yeah so i mean artists is certainly a first step of you know extending human presence beyond just <hes> you know earth orbit <hes> you know our goal here of course to get people back to the moon <hes> by twenty twenty four and to do that. We're building a number of different systems new spacecraft new landers and this really interesting thing called the gateway eight way you know <hes> it's meant to be an orbiting sort of mini space station around the moon 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 to go beyond the moon and also to be a place where you can carry out experiments beyond earth orbit a place where you can use use that to go to and from the lunar surface but unlike the space station is meant to be a place where you know we'll only occasionally be there at least at first and so if you're only we therefore it's a you know a few weeks of the year what happens the rest of the time. It's like having a vacation home. You still need to take care of them to do caretaking and <hes> you know at least in my opinion opinion. I think the very best way of doing that is to make use of robots. Some you know maybe there'll be a little lonely because they can take care of the place. Make sure sure the lights are on talk to turn right. Animation of the gateway might be fun for people to see that <hes> and i think you just answered pluto ninth question. Could you explain how the rule of robotics could be on the planet arm right talk about robots being inside and outside station so <hes> and i think the same thing is true about <hes> the gateway <hes> certainly <hes> we expect there to be an external robot arm and you can see ah right there in the animation <hes> and i think at some point in the future hopefully not too distant future. We'll see robots inside <hes> performance some of these <hes> these caretaking right task <hes> and i think beyond that to of course you know here <hes> at nasa we have spent quite a bit of time researching and studying and how humans are robots can work together on planetary surfaces as we get people back to the moon. I fully expect there to be be robust there as well and there 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 <hes> you know. Infrastructure like <hes> communication arrays solar panels <hes> maybe habitats girl banning pads <hes> and they're really i think the honestly the sky's delimit about the things you can think about for ways for humans and robots the team as we carry out future exploration. I think you have a question here from and you know to what you're speaking. He can by airplane men nine hundred ninety seven <hes>. Would we have robots in deep space <hes> on other planets that help humans you. You know explore those planets that we've never 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 and i think <hes> <hes> at least right now the the current focus on the moon is a great opportunity of not just for nasa but for the for the entire world to learn how to really live and work <hes> on another a planetary surface on the moon and we 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 meaning that you you talked about earlier great on other worlds strengths. How did you guys already talked a little bit about the before in parallel and after kinda the ideas terry sort of covered that with talking about scouting comparing infrastructure <hes> so the after is you can <hes> you know cruise only gonna be there for a certain amount of time that humans probably then go home after a few months or year maybe and then you want the will stay behind so they can continue to do some of the work that the astronauts started a for instance. We talked about those tedious. You know jobs yes taking lots of measurements so they could go in there and really characterizes is a site really collecting would be probably a lot lot for an astronaut to do right so that's what i picture. The human saying. This looks fascinating to study now. Oh go spend several years ago. We had a research project here. At nasa ames called the robotic follow up project and maria was actually the the the the project manager for that okay that was really all about exactly that you know we we sent out <hes> some astronauts <hes> into the field and they had had held cameras does and instruments here on earth. I guess this is what we call. A planetary analog a location on earth that has has features that are similar exactly two places that we care about the moon or mars <hes> this particular case it was in the canadian arctic <hes> this wonderfully interesting place called devon island island and on there is a large twenty kilometer twelve meter twelve mile or so diameter <hes> impact structure big giant crater we she had similar to astronauts doing some mapping work there some field geology work <hes> and then after they were done. You know that came back home. We look the robots. Robots robots followed the human. I the name follow up studies. They were able to like for instance. He's a ground penetrating radar over the ground. You're just going back and forth yeah basically mowing the lawn so taking thousands the major minutes that frankly would have been really tedious really <hes> you know difficult i think for yeah how did it do to do well the job well and slack off after the humans left. Oh another another set of readings really. We'll take a break. I mean robots robots <hes> th they they might run out of energy but i still need care and feeding yeah that's that's true okay yeah so that was the after example for during and after humans are there which is kind of like surgery told me the other day already. We do this surgery too. I mean you know obviously the brain surgeon stuck. Do everything end to end. You know there's someone who's doing preparation and get the patient ready in the operating reading room and ready and then the brain surgeon comes in you know leave and then somebody cleans up afterwards you know and i think <hes> you know the idea idea that humans working with robots space you know it might they might follow same kind of model you have robots that are doing things ahead of time and maybe a long time and then the humans arrive and do the parts that require humans and you know afterwards the robots comeback in this okay now the pesky humans are ah ever do this much quicker right. Here's an example us. Move airplane man nineteen ninety-seven what's no should there be a robot about that follows people around to make sure areas safe when we're on mars for example. Perhaps the mooner yeah there. There have been other projects here at nasa that have looked at the idea of robots robots doing scouting where they're really scouting. You know not you know years in advance but just ahead of of humans on or maybe represented just behind them carrying tools rules or a supplies. I think that kind of you know real time. Support is also really of interest to all three eight <hes> <hes>. We've got lots of questions. We're going to definitely save time for those. <hes> some comments like the life is yours calls astor b space roomba. Yeah listen to we've we've. We've had other comments to that. You know people have said hey the spheres robots that you guys been working with obviously inspired inspired by star wars and you know some people said well you know your new robot is a cube you know so. Was that inspired that other you know awesome what's intentions so far. It's been very good very very benign hasn't tried to assimilate. Everybody just want to make that clear. <hes> we question the question here from <hes> coffee f x saying what are the biggest challenges in building a robot designed to operate in a space environment <hes> that's a great question so actually one of our biggest challenges in it comes from operating near humans in safety right of course oh we could probably make a robot that can fly real fast and but you know there are windows vision so we don't want to actually be coin would not be good so actually it's been pretty challenging in coming up with a propulsion system. That's very nimble. <hes> responsive <hes> moses like a reasonable rate can move a reasonable amount of mass and yet is safe right <hes> so you know those considerations really make it a challenge there. I don't know whether hardware considerations shin's like extra sturdy moral. They're all sorts across the space station. Environment <hes> is is it's actually a nice gentle environment. I mean there's there's there's very little gravity and that's really microgravity. They're essentially zero gravity. <hes> and it's like an office environment. You know short-sleeved. It's the problem is getting there because to get to get on a rocket. A rocket shakes shakes you and shakes you and shakes you. So some of what we did over the past couple years was tried design attribute to survive really the shock of being blanched to the space station yeah yeah so we had to do testing. It's still worked after we shook their structural constraints electricity city electrical as well to make sure that you're not gonna shock any i any other system on the space space station with all the other systems on space so <hes> you have to look at radiate like our radiating noise you know going to interfere with the other systems on space station out of consideration of course we control <hes> ask from the ground from mission control and so that means we're sending data back birth on the space station is being set across the the wireless network the wi fi network on space station so of course you don't wanna be network hog either the networking industry maytag. What movie are you playing. Sir be watching also i. I know i've taught you guys about this. You know taking what you guys learned from spheres and apply in that to astro b <hes> in your design and testing for you know yeah absolutely so <hes> one of our considerations was we didn't want to have astronauts have to put these gas canisters astor's into asked me. That's that's a chore that we're adding to the tours. Then astronauts daycare the robot so we made an all electric system that can just plug itself in the only consumable is electricity. No battery power really docking station. They can go recharge itself. I guess the other thing too but we should point out a sphere is is that in addition to this you know carbon dioxide portion which is in a little tank change out <hes> requires a basically these <hes> these eight pack of aa batteries yeah and of course that what that means is that the spheres couldn't really run for a long time. Maybe an hour or two and then you know someone's gonna come over and change change the tank and change the batteries so astra be of core part of the design was let's get away from all that just recharge itself and then i also was not allowed to operate by itself because the materials are not are there some flammable materials so it had to have human oversight at all times in case it burst into flames happen but so all the materials on ashby 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 real. It's pretty cool right yeah. You were talking about communicating with the robots so here's maybe beer general question are these robots designed signed communicate directly with the d._s._m. And can you tell us what the d._s._s. asset. As the the deep space network it's what nasa and and frankly all also <hes> spacefaring countries use to communicate <hes> two spacecraft <hes> robotic or human <hes> in space <hes> you know i think <hes> as we see robot's going to other places along with humans than there'll be more and more use of of the d._s._m. For communications <hes> on the space station of course we don't use the d._s. Send because it's an earth orbit. <hes> we instead use another system. <hes> it's called tetris d. d. r. s. which stands for don't ask me the tracking and data relay. He's satellite system. I think but basically it's a set of communication satellites in earth orbit and it relays the signals from the space station <hes> to the ground emission control and so we use that to communicate to and from the space station right preventing <hes> yeah it's interesting there there are drop outs and com <hes> between the station and ground <hes> so we also designed astor masturbate to be able to operate through those dropouts when it can't okay to the ground. That's what you know the autonomous nature of can carry on king carry on doing what it the excellent <hes> we actually have some questions about career paths into robotics and things like that. Can you guys kind of share share how you got into robotics and education. We have people who are interested in you know what kind of programs where you in school and internships and things like that so first off. I might be a little bit biased but i think everybody should be a robot assist. I think partially is because it is really fun. <hes> working with with robots and <hes> as maria said earlier i mean robotics in 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 from computer science point of view if you like mechanical all design mechanical engineering electrical engineering we need you. All we ask somebody wanted to know. If you can use programmers here's alex the unique hat do web developers helping robotics. Oh yeah definitely yeah because one of the key things as we 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 will build user interfaces aces all the interfaces that run ed mission control that talked to spacecraft while some of those are custom interfaces. Some of them are just run on web. Browsers might be web applications nations and so. I think the answer is definitely yes. <hes> you know you can get your web programming. Hey you could do for a robot to absolutely yeah good. Good systems were based yeah. That's that software design here. We have a actually a ground data system that that we use for science planning planning so mission science planning 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 or after and yeah so you know the robots themselves elves these days at least for the ones inside the space station which is just like being in an office or a home. <hes> you know the the the components actually are not the main cost i mean cost has to do with at the time spent developing and building and engineering engineering time but <hes> you know astroturf as maria said uses a set of basically <hes> smartphone smartphone class processors and we use off the shelf software as well <hes> <hes> astronaut runs both android and lennox <hes> interest operating system system and <hes> and so it's not you know like we've custom crafted our own unique. You know set of of software. Some of the hardware obviously is unique. I mean ashley. It doesn't look like anything you'd buy in a store machine. Parts print actually a lot of after he has three primary printing -actly opening up a lot of the inside. Let's go. I recognize that i could buy that <hes> all right cool <hes>. I have one that i like. I'm curious about the j._p. Guy asks is it possible to create self sterilizing robots to prevent contamination during nine one a possible payload for us to be in the near future <hes> we had some folks come in to talk to us about <hes> equipment for sterilizing really inside the space playstation. It's basically ultraviolet light light. Yeah bite <hes>. It's basically like a panel of l._e._d.'s that you just go and hold it up against the nearest surface and the light will sterilize it so yes sir sterilize each so you know what i think. People go hiking. Do have these water sterilizing one pen okay basically u._v. Light to kill off bacteria and that could work it could work definitely. He's <hes> <hes> you have a comment here from <hes> while oppose very cool. Y'all look <hes> here's a question from rob. <unk> are <hes> are there any crawling robots robots that could easily manipulate things rather than flying <hes> because it uses a certain kind of energy yeah well. We saw some of the other robots that nasa has worked within the past earlier on the show. <hes> you know i certainly think that all kinds of robots are i needed of course you know robots like like like robot to <hes> we had a few years ago i mean those were designed to be humanoid robot to actually <hes> at one point point was going to have a pair of these climbing limbs so <hes> well. The legs are kind of backwards backwards. Basically it's not natural that would allow robots to really climb oliver in the inside the space station so it would have two arms and two legs to limbs and then you could use all four of those two clam around and now unfortunately we we we had some some problems with the electrical system and we brought robot to back down but maybe in the future you'll see systems like robot to <hes> the ken climb time for ground exploration yet there are snake robots and you know that again bio inspired you know it's probably by insects and read that you know move across the ground in different ways and can be very efficient and so there's a lot of work developing these sort sort of bio inspired robots. That's cool. It's kind of related to this when the life is yours asks would've robot like the boston dynamic ones work on mars and the moon. Can you describe scrabble little yeah so i mean i obviously boston dynamics. This has created lots of really interesting video showing their robots doing everything from gymnastics all kinds of things <hes> you know with with running and jumping and hopping and you know twin. Honestly you know nasa has interested in those things those kinds of robot capabilities because there are replaces. They're just not suited to wheels places. Where maybe you can't fly. There's no atmosphere <hes> you know. Astra be for example does require air and the march helicopter after requires error on mars can't really have that kind of flying robot on the moon without atmosphere area exactly like the boston. <hes> doesn't doesn't require air to move is probably designed to operate in air for things like cooling so you couldn't just transport that that particular robot as ooh. That's good yeah so you have to do some redesign and it would be capable of operating on those other in other environments but the method of locomotion certainly yeah we would we're looking at walking and crawling robots and jumping and hopping and exactly we'll see <hes> <hes> a couple of people have asked again. I think its about astra be. How do these robots propel themselves in zero gravity in a spaceship so could you just review you could leave the fan base system. <hes> you know this our particular there are other ways of propelling yourself inside the space space station but <hes> attribute in particular fan based. It has impelled actually. Can we sure bring it back up on the world all right so so actually right there might be good so i can actually point things yeah so again the circular opening here there is an empower fan new my head over yeah. This is better snow can actually talk to the microphone <hes> so this circular part here. There's a fan inside here and that brings the air into you this sort of it's sort of like box almost on the end of the robot this <hes> this sort of black section <hes> and then it goes it so lightly pressure is is <hes> the box and then these grills right here vents in your car look like events <hes> there's a nozzle behind that right at the grill is to keep <hes> astronaut fingers from going in and so that's why the grill as they are but <hes> but behind there are these <hes> <hes> nozzles that have flappers flappers at close and so it lets air out and have different amounts of different amounts. You've been at a little bit yeah a little bit of airy open it wide get more air and then so that the air moving out pushes the robot in the opposite direction. This is the whole magic zero g right. You're floating. It's the you know equal opposite reactions so that's how we propel ourselves around space station awesome yeah apollo m._g. Asks the gyro stabilized and it's partially quote gyro stabilized because you know you have fancier and there's actually a fan on both sides so it's it's is counter rotating <hes> and what's fascinating is that depending on how fast we spin this you know we can change how stabilization space so as we do docking for example and we wanna move in very precisely <hes> and very you know it was very smooth motion will basically spin up the robot and you can actually hear get louder. Oh ooh becomes more stable because it's using its fans and how fast they're spending to stabilize it also gets a little more control authority because there's a little more pressure <hes> touchable pressure so it can actually push itself a little bit harder right that makes sense yeah. There's there keeps coming in. We have one question from ill inc are robots good for tending the growing of plants in space <hes> this is actually a super timely question yeah well yeah so i went to nasa workshop on how robots could be used to help grow crops in space and <hes> it's fascinating <hes> you think about all the challenges that you know would be associated with doing that. I mean planting and monitoring and ten dane and harvest overstaying and then processing afterwards <hes> so i think it's a great area for research and development <hes> not ready today but <hes> if we want to send humans woman's especially in the deep space package all the food. They're not just going to be eating out of microwaveable things. They're going to eat fresh food and <hes> it's a really as anybody he's grown anything. <hes> knows it takes a lot of effort and so i think robots definitely are needed for that. <hes> some are already being used on on earth. Yeah yeah yeah yeah marvin. There's this whole new interesting category called vertical farming main. <hes> you know what people want to grow <hes> really crops inside their homes or their apartments and small space right. Exactly how can you grow vertically typically you have all these different like shelves and like like hydroponics that go into <hes> help plasco but the problem is he's still have to take care of the system itself off. You know things always get clogged. Things need to get harvested <hes> so i think we need robots with that. <hes> here's an interesting one <hes> phone things as what types of prehensile tasks robots performance space i e gripping and grasping tasks is that swell so we talked about the perching arching army rip onto thing and yes <hes> save energy by doing that <hes> also we we've been looking at prehensile the task that like a rover renton wheeled robot can do when it's on a planetary surface for instance it can dig a trench right if you you you drive three of the wheels and your fourth one you just kinda you turn it sideways and spin it a little bit league can actually dig a trench so for instance that you want to leave some cables labels then berry around the habitat you could use the robot to dig trenches to fit the cables in and that's kind of a gripping task as it's hold that's gripping prehensile so there's no no not non-price aw sorry nonprofit i mean but in terms of of grasping things you know we you said earlier that astra only has a arm for perching <hes> but obviously other systems like rubbing two or even on the you know the the canada-arm to with its is dexter system has the ability to really reach out and physically interact with things you know maybe you're going to try to unscrew something or to swap out <hes> some the module which needs to be changed for repair purposes gripper is pretty limited. Developing stanford is actually developing a gecko inspired gripper are perching are for astor be on orbit launched yeah it just launched <hes> and so they're looking at being able to <hes> perch on any surface the universal gripper. I mean you think about you know geckos. They can adhere to any kind of surface <hes> <hes>. This feeling does not so thrilled about that when they're in your home. Keep the bugs down in this new. This new robot hand basically is meant to be the universal thing so it can stick to a any kind of surface <hes> any kind of shape. <hes> and that's one the things that over the next several months. We're hoping to see tested with astra be very cool his we're going to have to finish soon. Aren't we yeah <hes>. Do you have a favorite question or should i throw out there. <hes> you go first ok polio sanders. 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 testy space robots on earth <hes> well so astor distribute. We tested on a granite table. It's kind of an upside down. <hes> air hockey table where instead of the air coming out of the table comes out of a puck tuck and the robots sits on top of this puck floats on the pong right so it's able to slave around lives around. It's like a friction surface so the way can simulate what it's like to fire. Unfortunately we can only do two dimensions not three. We don't have enough thrust actually lift up off the table. Um on but we can. We can simulate to mentions <hes> on earth with the granite table need. That's the way we test ashby. There are other things we can do to. I mean both here at nasa ames. At a nasa johnson. We have these kind of gantry crane systems that are used as gravity offset so you basically have a crane and you program into it. <hes> <hes> the ability to basically sort of like quote remove the effects of gravity you attach something you hang it from it <hes> and then basically how you program the crane cleaned move around simulates being basically in zero gravity is just an you can't use the propulsion system. When you're oh yeah it doesn't it doesn't it commands the crane to move it as propulsion system where okay that's quite a lot since <hes> since the comment <hes> mentioned parabolic flights sunday we did do some tests <hes> few years ago with spheres <hes> the smarts fears you know in this commentary and and the fact that they briefly mimic yeah we're talking about like fifteen fifteen seconds at most periods and so you know from an engineering point point of view. It's really hard to say okay. Let's get ready. Get ready and then that comes with like what can we learn. Fifteen seconds just spin up her fans or it. It's really tough. I mean it's probably the highest fidelity way we can simulate. <hes> you know here on earth rate on earth. You know by flying but it's hard yeah well. Thank you guys so much for joining us today about all the time we have today <hes> huge thanks to everyone who joined us in the chat today <hes> thanks for watching. We'll see you next time <music>.