This NASA prototype free-flying space robot equipped with a smartphone, known as Smart SPHERES, will test free-flying 3-D mapping and navigation inside the Space Station. Image © NASA/Ames
NASA has been testing SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites) 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 is developing the Smart SPHERES to perform work on the space station 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.
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