Google and NASA are building self-aware space robots.
Google’s ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) team has been working with NASA since the summer of 2013, long before it publicly announced Project Tango, to integrate the 3D mapping technology into an autonomous robot that moves in zero gravity. The ATAP team is working with NASA’s Ames Research Center to integrate a prototype of Project Tango onto NASA’s SPHERES robotic platform, which could act as a robotic assistant for astronauts or perform independent maintenance tasks.
(Related: What we know about Project Tango)
In a Google+ post, the ATAP team said that Project Tango is prepping for a launch into space this summer after a successful zero-gravity test flight at NASA’s Houston facility. SPHERES, which flies inside the International Space Station, will be equipped with a Project Tango-enabled smartphone that is aware of physical space the way humans are.
NASA’s SPHERES robotic platform fitted with a Project Tango prototype.
“The 3D-tracking and mapping capabilities of Project Tango would allow SPHERES to reconstruct a 3D map of the space station and, for the first time in history, enable autonomous navigation of a floating robotic platform 230 miles above the surface of the earth,” the ATAP team wrote.