Japan Wants to Send Telepresence Robots to Space


Share post:

Working Remote

By 2020, a fleet of robots may work aboard the International Space Station, handling menial or dangerous tasks so human astronauts can focus on more complex or scientific projects — or even letting people back on Earth beam into robot bodies. At least, that’s the end goal of a new partnership between the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and a space robot startup called GITAI.

“We want to solve the cost and safety problems of human travel by using robotics technology,” GITAI co-founder and CEO Sho Nakanose told IEEE Spectrum. “Further, the problem of human travel is the most urgent and deep-rooted in the space industry and so we are working on space telepresence robots because they can be made practical faster than autonomous robots.”

Helping Hand

Videos published by GITAI show the vaguely-humanoid robots flipping switches, opening toolboxes, and performing other simple tasks in a lab meant to look like the ISS. In one, the robot needs a little help from a human researcher, but given that the robots are meant to be remote controlled by Earthbound operators, we’ll allow it. Any GITAI robots that get sent into orbit will stream 360-degree video back to Earth, and the company claims that it’s found a way to get high-quality video footage back and forth with just a 60-millisecond delay.

Automation Strikes Again

GITAI says that deploying robotic workers will cut JAXA’s costs to just one-tenth of what it costs to send humans to the ISS, even with humans controlling them from the ground. But those humans may eventually be out of work.

“However, when working on the surface of the moon, for example, the physical delay alone is at least 1.2 seconds, so it will be difficult to use telepresence robots, and we think there will be a need to conduct work using semi autonomous/semi remotely operated robots,” Nakanose told IEEE Spectrum. “We are conducting research led by a robot PhD who developed autonomous robots, so in our research and development work we are actively pursuing the development of autonomous robots.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Related articles

Malaysia’s BRICS Ambition: The Dawn of a New Economic Era

In a world where economic alliances can have a significant impact on a country's growth and stability, Malaysia...

The Sound of Controversy: South Korea’s Loudspeaker Dilemma

In the ongoing psychological battle between South and North Korea, the sound of South Korea's loudspeakers has once...

Love Your Work Without Losing Yourself in the Workplace

It’s easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle of modern work. Disengagement at work is...

Australian Employment Surpasses Expectations in May

The Australian employment landscape showed remarkable resilience in May, defying expectations and underscoring the labor market's strength. Data...