Scientists tested an innovative robotic technology at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre about 100 kilometres away from Moscow. The android will replace astronauts in the open space. The SAR-401 is planned to join the International Space Station Team in 2014.
The robot is operated by a special remote which looks like a glove. If something needs replacing on the Space Station, the team will send the robot into outer space to deal with the issue. “In general it will be dealing with the replacement of equipment, testing the outer surface of the Station and maintenance issues,” – says Vladislav Sychkov, the executive director of Androids Technics, who created the device.
SAR-401 is able to perform extremely delicate tasks, perhaps even better than a human being. The metal astronaut can lift up to 10 kg on the Earth, which means that he will be able to lift much more in the zero gravity environment. The job of the robot can be controlled by an operator from the station as well as from the earth. Moreover, the device features special software that will allow it to transmit messages to the astronauts from earth.
Sychkov says: “We have completed R&D for the development of the robot’s key assembly unit, which is a “shoulder” with three degrees of freedom. We’re also working on a new pickup and gripping system. All this is expected to result in the creation of the prototype of a multifunctional space robot.”
The researchers lowered the cost of the device’s development by creating an interactive 3D model of SAR-401. With the help of programming, scientists were able to test the possible situations when the device will be needed and could model all the necessary features.
The robot is also able to operate inside a cabin. The efficiency of the tasks done by SAR-401 will mainly dependent on an operator’s skills, which seems to be a very challenging job to do. However, the new device will make the maintenance of the ISS much safer for the astronauts, as they will reduce risking their lives in open space.
“It is hardly possible that a robot could substitute a human being. It will be a co-operation rather than substitution,”-says Sergey Krikalev from the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre.
Development of multifunctional robots seems to be also a very efficient solution for improving the safety conditions on potentially unsafe manufactures such as nuclear power plants. Perhaps, the creators of robotic helpers will come up with innovative and cheap androids that will help out workers on Earth.
The cost of SAR-401 hasn’t yet been stated, however the creators say it will be much cheaper than the similar American model. NASA’s Robonaut is already helping out the astronauts in space and it should expect a Russian robo-friend to join him very soon.
Before delivering the robot to the Space Station the company will make amendments to the SAR-401 in order for it to be perfect. However, even the current version is assumed to be quite ready for the job.
What interesting changes will the new robotic invention bring to the space industry?