NASA and Google Developing Smart Floating Robots

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Google is teaming up with NASA to create autonomous flying robots for use as astronaut assistants on the International Space Station.

Google is teaming up with NASA to create autonomous flying robots for use as astronaut assistants on the International Space Station.

There are currently three SPHERES, or Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites floating around the International Space Station, but they are using ultrasound and infrared technology to navigate how they move.

"Someday they may be able to fly around and help us carry our tools for us or maybe hold a camera for us. Then maybe someday little satellites like these could even fly outside the space station." [NASA]

Google has developed a three dimensional mapping system called Project Tango, that they are putting into the next generation of SPHERES.

Terry Fong, from NASA’s Ames Research Center, is quoted in a statement saying: “The Project Tango prototype incorporates a particularly important feature for the Smart SPHERES — a 3-D sensor. This allows the satellites to do a better job of flying around on the space station and understanding where exactly they are.”

Using the Project Tango system, the robots will be able to track their own position in real time, while also creating a 3D map of their surroundings.

Google has said that a smartphone with Project Tango will be launched into orbit this summer.

SPHERES controlled by smartphones could be used in the future to do exterior repairs on satellites or assemble new spacecrafts while in orbit of the Earth.

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