NASA has teamed up with Freelancer – a platform to find freelancing jobs, to crowdsource designs for robotic arm of its new Astrobee robot. The initiative is expected to give out a total of US$ 25,000 over the next few months in its different contests in its Astrobee challenges series seeking solutions to pieces of the arm.
According to the job post on freelancer page,”Each contest has been defined to be solvable on its own, but you may choose to compete in as many contests as you wish. Winning solutions may be incorporated into the robotic arm design and used with Astrobee for years to come.”
Robotic Arm challenge series
The initiative will involve several contests focusing on providing solutions for the robotic arm of NASA’s new robot and each contest winner will be awarded prizes ranging from US$ 250 to US$ 5,000. Previous contests have already produced solutions such as 3D tools for robotic astronauts, smartwatch applications for station updates. The free-flyer part of the robotic assistant Astrobee has already been designed by NASA that will fly around inside the ISS perch on a wall-mounted handhold and orient a camera as directed. Now they are looking to the freelancer community to create this orientation arm.
Robotic assistant in ISS
Currently, the Astrobee robot is under development by the NASA Game Changing Development Programme and set to be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2019.
This self-flying cubic robot is being designed with an aim to help scientists and engineers in developing and testing technologies for use in zero-gravity, help astronauts to do their routine chores and gives extra eyes to the flight controllers in Houston.
The robotic assistant will also have capabilities like analysing air quality and retrieving the location of tools on the ship. It will have an autonomous mode that can be implemented to carry out trips outside ISS. The hardware used in this robot needs to be so safe that even if all software malfunctions, the robots would still not damage ISS.