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NASA's new flying robot gets its first hardware check in space
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NASA's new flying robot gets its first hardware check in space
NASA's new robot is getting ready for work.Astrobee, a free-flying robot system that's designed to give astronauts a hand in space, has had its first hardware checks on the International Space Station.The system is actually a trio of robots, named Honey, Queen, and Bumble, which are propelled by electric fans and can return to their docking station to recharge their batteries. Two of the robots, Bumble and Honey, were launched to the space station on Apr. 17. NASA posted a photo of astronaut Anne McClain, who performed the first series of tests on Astrobee, which included checking the robot's avionics, cameras, propulsion, and docking for power and data transfer.Anne McClain checks Astrobee.Image: NASAAstrobee is a test to see how robots can take care of spacecraft when astronauts are away, which NASA explained will be crucial for deep-space missions, such as its plan to return to the moon.The robots feature cameras, microphones, and other sensors to help operators on the ground to monitor conditions. They can fly independently, or be controlled, allowing astronauts to concentrate on more important tasks. The robots are modular too, which means more features can be added when needed.SEE ALSO: Elon Musk shows us the 60 satellites that will one day help power a better internetIt'll be a little while until the system gets to work, with more tests to run until its project commissioning date sometime around October or November. Researchers are also planning more complex experiments, including carrying payloads, which will begin in 2020. WATCH: World's largest plane by wingspan lifts off into the history books
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