Robotic hand built by Japanese firm to be part of tech demo at the space station in 2021

With this tech demonstration, GITAI hopes to develop more robots to carry out versatile tasks in space.

Soon, a robot is going to work on the International Space Station. Developed by GITAI, a Japanese space robotics startup, the task-specific system called the S1, is going to travel to the ISS in 2021.

According to the official website, the GITAI S1 is a “semi-autonomous/ semi-teleoperated robot designed to conduct specified tasks internally & externally on space stations, on-orbit servicing, and lunar base development”.

The robotic hand can independently carry out multiple tasks at the space station. This includes manipulating switches, controlling tools or soft objects, conducting science experiments and assembly, and high-load operations.

S1 has an arm that can freely move up to 8 degrees and has a 1-metre reach. This is powered with an integrated sensing and computing system that can be wall-mounted. Next year, GITAI’s creation will be part of a demonstrative experiment in collaboration with NanoRacks’ developed module.

The robotic hand will be mounted in the airlock module called Bishop, which will be installed on Node 3 of the International Space Station (ISS). There, S1 will have to perform two experiments. The first task concerns Intra-Vehicular Activity or IVA where S1 will be required to “switch and cable operations and assembly of structures and panels to demonstrate its capability for In-Space Assembly (ISA)”.

All the operations conducted here will be autonomous. While GITAI has been managing the technical development of the space robotic arm, Nanoracks is responsible for arranging the launch opportunity. They are doing this as part of their Space Act Agreement with NASA. The firm will also manage on-orbit operations and data downlink.

By means of this technical demonstration, GITAI is trying to develop a robot that can conduct versatile tasks in space. This demo will also be helpful for future missions with autonomous robots so that these devices can brave the alien space environment and carry on tasks of repair and maintenance.

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