Thursday, 18 January, 2018

Japan's Ridiculously Cute Floating Camera Bot Is Now Operational on The ISS

The Int Ball The Int Ball
Melinda Barton | 18 July, 2017, 11:08

Int-Ball was delivered to the ISS in a SpaceX cargo shipment last month - the company's first involving a reused Dragon cargo capsule - and is now operational, currently undergoing initial testing.

Int-Ball is short for Internal Ball Camera, and it was developed by Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Dubbed "Int-Ball", the device will free astronauts to do more important work, while providing ground controllers with their own set of eyes. It has also cut the amount of work done by Japanese astronauts on the ISS by about 10 percent, photographing work and equipment for evaluation that otherwise would have to be done manually. Both researchers and flight controllers have real-time access to the videos and images, and they can also be shuttled to the crew now onboard the International Space Station.

The robotic camera drone is controlled by Japan's Tsukuba Space Center; it is capable of operating autonomously, as well, while recording video and snapping still photos.

The official name for the rather cute looking robot is the "Internal Ball Camera" drone, and it was sent specifically to document missions in zero G. The Int Ball can fly autonomously around the spaceship and, as you'd expect, it's nearly entirely made using 3D printing.

In the footage released by JAXA, viewers can see images of the interior of the ISS captured by the Int-Ball 3D printed bot.

The cute robot, which integrates both internal and external 3D printed components, is created to operate in a zero-gravity environment, and it is reportedly able to move "anywhere at anytime via autonomous flight".

The camera adopts existing drone technology and its exterior and inner structures were all manufactured by 3D-printing.

JAXA says it is "striving to further improve Int-Ball's performance, enhance its functions, and promote the automation and autonomy of extra- and intra-vehicular experiments, while seeking to acquire the robotics technology available for future exploration missions".