German astronaut directs humanoid robot from space

German astronaut Alexander Gerst has a new colleague, who goes by the name of Rollin’ Justin. Justin is a humanoid robot being trained to carry out tasks that could eventually assist man’s efforts to set up shop on Mars. Gerst, currently serving a stint as commander on the European Space Station ISS, on 17 August 2018 conducted a variety of tasks with Justin, directing the robot from space using a tablet.

A highlight of several successfully carried out tasks was Justin managing to successfully replace a smoking solar battery in a station module. In May the Institute introduced their SMiLE project that uses robotics to assist people working in the care sector to help aging patients or people with physical disabilities.

According to the Aerospace Centre, the aim of the robots is to allow a realistic potential exploration of Mars in preparation for the possible introduction of man to the planet. The technology being tested by Gerst and the Institute for robotics could also be used for other more earthly problem solving, for example in construction and repair works that are dangerous for humans.

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