NASA Crowdsources Robot Arm Design

The arm would be attached to Astrobee, a flying, 1-cubic-foot robot that will patrol the ISS and assist astronauts with experiments and routine chores.

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NASA is soliciting ideas from the general public about the design of a robot that will live aboard the International Space Station.

The agency recently posted a contest on the staffing website Freelancer.com that invites interested individuals to submit plans for a robotic arm.

The arm would be attached to Astrobee, a flying, 1-cubic-foot robot that will patrol the ISS and assist astronauts with experiments and routine chores.

Astrobee will succeed NASA's initial ISS robots — called SPHERES — and can operate either autonomously or under the control of NASA personnel in Houston.

The agency is designing a small arm that will enable Astrobee to latch onto surfaces or interact with other objects, but NASA will also take other designs into account.

NASA will select 30 candidates from a pool of applicants that complete an initial survey. The selected finalists will receive $10; if they complete NASA's requirements for the arm design, they will win another $100.

Further details — including about the selection of a winner or further financial rewards — were not available.

NASA expects the Astrobee to be ready for launch next year.

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