NASA robot transformed from research project into Space Station crew member by Digi WiFi module

Photo: Robert Markowitz & Bill Stafford Photo: Robert Markowitz & Bill Stafford

(Minnetonka, Minnesota, USA) – NASA is using a wireless module to WiFi enable its Robonaut, a humanoid robot that will perform routine maintenance tasks on the International Space Station (ISS).  The module is Digi International’s ConnectCore® Wi-i.MX53.

NASA’s Robonaut currently exists on the ISS as a torso, bolted to a pedestal, and is connected to the station with wires for power and control. The robot will be upgraded soon with legs and batteries that will allow it to move freely through the station. But that free movement will only be possible if all of the wires are gone – including the ones used for control and monitoring. NASA has therefore installed Digi International’s ConnectCore Wi-i.MX53 wireless module to Wi-Fi enable the Robonaut.

Digi_connectcore-wi-mx53
Digi International’s ConnectCore Wi-i.MX53 is being deployed by NASA

Digi International’s wireless module passed a rigorous set of tests to ensure it could survive in outer space. The wireless connectivity provided by the ConnectCore Wi-i.MX53 will help enable the Robonaut to perform routine tasks such as housekeeping and air quality testing in space.  This will free up time for astronauts to conduct science experiments and other important tasks.

The ConnectCore Wi-i.MX53 will allow astronauts to manipulate the Robonaut remotelyfrom anywhere within the ISS or the NASA Mission Control Center on Earth.  The wireless link will also transmit views from cameras on the Robonaut, allowing astronauts and NASA control team members to see what the robot is seeing in real-time and control its actions.

International_Space_Station
The International Space Station is being served by Robonaut with new capabilities

The wireless link is part of a plan for further upgrades to Robonaut that will enable it to perform tasks outside the space station.  This could allow Robonaut to assist the crew during Extravehicular Activity (EVA), or spacewalking, tasks including work site set-up and serving as an extra set of hands.

Digi International (NASDAQ: DGII) specialises in M2M, combining products and services as end-to-end solutions to drive business efficiencies. Digi provides a broad range of wireless products, and a cloud computing platform tailored for devices and development services to help customers get to market fast with wireless devices and applications.

Robonaut (R2) photo (above):
Photographers – Robert Markowitz & Bill Stafford

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