Issues Occur After NASA Robot is Unpacked

The idea of robotic technology, specifically the kind that can think for themselves and act, may be a terrifying thought to many. But the concept has become more than a little useful for the folks at NASA.

Robonaut, the robot helping aboard the International Space Station, is expected to begin moving about on his own two legs within the next few months. Eventually, it is expected to perform repairs outside of the ship when the astronauts are unable to do so, thus providing them with more time and safety.

However, as the crew aboard the space station quickly discovered, having a robot doesn’t always run so smoothly: A timelapse video provided by NASA shows Expedition 42 astronaut, Terry Virts, removing Robonaut from what appears to be a suitcase attached to the wall of the space station. And soon after, the machine ran into a few technical errors.

According to NASA, the ground teams deployed Robonaut’s software and received telemetry from the robot, but were unable to obtain the correct commands for the leg movement, which are vital to performing every day tasks aboard the International Space Station. Ground teams have begun assessing how to move forward with this issue, though it is unclear if they currently have a fix in mind.

NASA describes Robonaut as:

“…a dexterous humanoid robot built and designed at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Our challenge is to build machines that can help humans work and explore in space. Working side by side with humans, or going where the risks are too great for people, Robonauts will expand our ability for construction and discovery. Central to that effort is a capability we call dexterous manipulation, embodied by an ability to use one’s hand to do work, and our challenge has been to build machines with dexterity that exceeds that of a suited astronaut.”

The update detailing this issue surfaced from NASA mid-December, and goes into detail on how Robonaut will help the crew aboard the station, as well as how they setup the robot upon removing it from the case.

For now, though, the astronauts aboard the space station simply have to wait, while the ground teams fix the problem. In the meantime, the crew has begun posting images of themselves on Twitter alongside the robot, sporting thumbs ups and smiles on their faces.