- Russia has launched an unmanned rocket carrying a life-size humanoid robot that will spend 10 days learning to assist astronauts on the International Space Station.
- FEDOR is a Russian humanoid that replicates movements of a remote operator as well as performs a limited set of actions autonomously.
- Named Fedor, short for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, the robot is the first ever sent up by Russia to the International Space Station.
- Instead of cosmonauts, Fedor, also known as Skybot F850, was strapped into a specially adapted pilot’s seat, with a small Russian flag in hand.
- “Let’s go. Let’s go,” the robot was heard saying during launch, repeating the famous phrase used by first man in space Yuri Gagarin.
- The silvery anthropomorphic robot stands 1.80 metres (5 foot 11 inches) tall and weighs 160kg (353 pounds).
- Fedor has Instagram and Twitter accounts with posts saying it is learning new skills such as opening a bottle of water. In the ISS, it will trial those manual skills in very low gravity.
What’s so special with Fedor?
- Fedor copies human movements, a key skill that allows it to remotely help astronauts or even people on Earth to carry out tasks while the humans are strapped into an exoskeleton.
- Fedor is described as potentially useful on Earth for working in high radiation environments, demining and tricky rescue missions.
- Though initially developed for the emergencies ministry, Fedor can also be seen shooting at targets from two handguns in a video posted by Russian space agency.
- On board, the robot will perform tasks supervised by russian cosmonaut and will wear an exoskeleton and augmented reality glasses in a series of experiments later this month.
- Since Fedor is not trained to grab space station handles to move about in microgravity conditions, its legs will be immobilised on the space station.
Fedor not the first
- Fedor is not the first robot to go into space.
- In 2011, NASA sent up Robonaut 2, a humanoid robot developed with General Motors that had a similar aim of working in high-risk environments.
- It was flown back to Earth in 2018 after experiencing technical problems.
- In 2013, Japan sent up a small robot called Kirobo along with the ISS’s first Japanese space commander. Developed with Toyota, it was able to hold conversations — albeit only in Japanese.