NASA looks to public to help design robotic arm

New York, Jan 20 (IANS) Members of the public, not to mention budding scientists and engineers with spare time and creative minds, get ready for some action to contrive a robotic arm!

For, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is offering a chance to create the arm of a space station robot, a media report said.

In yet another crowd-sourcing effort, the United States’ agency responsible for its civilian space programme is asking members of the public to help with the design of the Astrobee – “a free-flying robot the space agency is making to live aboard the International Space Station (ISS)”, The Verge reported on Tuesday.

Those who are interested in submitting designs for the arm can register through Freelancer.com website.

According to the report, the launch of the robot is scheduled in 2017 and the Astrobee that builds upon MIT’s SPHERES project, the three free-flying robots that have lived on the station since 2006, will autonomously roam throughout the ISS cabin, using sensors to conduct inspections or cameras to film the astronauts at work.

Although NASA is working on its own design for the arm that will interact with small objects in the space, the space agency also wants to see what other ideas people might have in mind and offer.

To take part in the Freelancer.com contest, called the NASA System Architecture Task, the participants must register for the contest by filling in a survey that assesses their academic merits and how much free time they have to devote to the project.

NASA will then select 30 people and give them $10 and a finalised breakdown of all the elements they must deliver to NASA in order to win.

The finalists, who fulfil all these requirements, will get $100 each. However, there was no word on the prizes for the winner (or winners).

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