Lovable Japanese Camera Drone Joins ISS Crew

first_img Review: ‘Daemon X Machina’ Has Big Robots, Small Fun on Nintendo SwitchThis Robot Is Equal Parts Lawnmower and Snow Blower Meet Int-Ball, the newest, and most adorable, member of the International Space Station.The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Friday published early photos and videos captured by the JEM International Ball Camera (or Int-Ball, as it is affectionately known).The 3D-printed drone—first of its galactic kind—navigates autonomously in zero gravity, and records still and moving images under remote control by folks at the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center.Delivered to the ISS last month by the US Dragon spacecraft, Int-Ball’s recordings are monitored in real time by flight controllers and researchers on the ground, then fed back to the onboard crew.The flying camera is currently undergoing “initial verification,” according to the agency.Int-Ball, equipped with miniaturized attitude control sensors and actuators in an all-in-one module, is more than an interstellar pet: It (He? She?) is on a mission.First and foremost, the soaring sphere must be able to move anywhere, at any time, via autonomous flight, and record images from any angle. (Judging by JAXA’s video (above), Int-Ball seems to have that down pat.)Int-Ball (top center) with astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer (via JAXA/NASA)Still in its infancy, the drone will eventually take over on-board photography duties, freeing up about 10 percent of the crew’s time to work on other tasks—like experimenting on artificial organs.Five projects using organs-on-chips research tackle five different issues, all of which should shine some light on the effects of microgravity on the human body, and hopefully lead to a medical breakthrough.JAXA, meanwhile, is “striving to further improve Int-Ball’s performance, enhance its functions, and promote the automation and autonomy of extra- and intra-vehicular experiments,” Friday’s announcement said, “while seeking to acquire the robotics technology available for future exploration missions.”Keep up with all the exciting newfangled science aboard NASA’s orbiting laboratory on Twitter via @ISS_Research.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on targetlast_img

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