Space is humanity's final frontier, but the same is apparently true for "bees" as well.
NASA is sending two of its robotic "Astrobees," a cube-shaped flying robot that will help take care of routine tasks and participate in experiments, to the International Space Station later this month.
"The robots will also help researchers on the ground carry out experiments, test new technologies and study human-robot interaction in space," the space agency wrote in a post. "The robots will also help researchers on the ground carry out experiments, test new technologies and study human-robot interaction in space."
The Astrobee was developed and built at NASA's Ames Research Center, in the heart of Silicon Valley. The government space agency said the robots, which are propelled by fans and sport a number of cameras and sensors, "were tested inside a special lab" in the California-based research center that mimics the interior of the ISS.
NASA is just starting to let robots handle simple tasks, freeing up astronauts for other work, the space agency said.
"For example, with tens of thousands of tools and parts to keep track of, Astrobee can cruise the ISS to continually verify the location of items with its RFID scanner, instead of requiring astronauts to spend their time doing this by hand," NASA said in a description of the robot. "Astrobee can also monitor environmental conditions such as air quality or sound levels, which can get very loud on the ISS, again freeing up the astronauts’ time while keeping them healthy."
In 2006, NASA sent its first-gen robotic assistant, SPHERES, to the ISS, Digital Trends reported.
The Astrobees won't be the only robot on the ISS, though. CIMON a basketball-shaped robot that features artificial intelligence and is backed by IBM's Watson, is already on the ISS after having launched in June 2018.