Design a Robot Helper
A Collaborative Activity
The challenge is for you to work with other students to research and design
a robot that will help the astronauts on the International Space Station.
Scientists at NASA are working on such a robot. The key questions cover
some of the issues the scientists are tackling. You can help them in their
quest to build a robot helper! Your design may answer some or all of the
should your robot buddy look like?
Should the robot look like a person? What should be the robot’s
size and shape?
Hint: Recent estimates show that it costs approximately $30,000 to launch
1 kg into orbit. Consider the limitations
of space inside the ISS modules.
will it get around?
How is motion in a microgravity environment
different from motion on the surface of the earth? How will the robot
propel itself and avoid things that get in its way? How will the robot
stop? How will the robot change direction? How will the robot "see"
where it’s going? Don't
forget the safety of fellow astronauts.
will you talk to it?
Astronauts will want to give voice commands to the robot as it floats
by or waits patiently beside the astronaut. How easy is it for a machine
to understand and obey spoken commands? What technology needs to be
used for this to happen? What are the challenges with this technology?
(Ask a team-mate to be the robot and literally obey your every command.
Is it easy for your team-mate to understand precisely what you want?)
How should the robot communicate with the astronauts?
could it do for you? What could it do for astronauts on the ISS?
The Space Station is like a giant, sealed, soda can. For the astronauts
to be safe, the temperature must be just right. There are different
gases in the air we breathe. A small mistake in the air composition
could be dangerous. Could a robot be used to measure air temperature?
How will the robot know that the air composition is just right for the
astronauts? What should the robot do if there is a problem with the
temperature or air composition?
How will you know your robot from the others?
If there is more than one robot on the ISS, how will the astronauts
know which one is their robot
to Learning: Let's Talk Robotics
to Learning: Microgravity
to Learning: Toys in Space 2
to useful information
to Intro Page