Astrobee, NASA's new robotic system designed to help astronauts reduce their time spent on routine tasks, conducted their first hardware tests on the International Space Station (ISS). In the test it was verified whether the robot subsystems (avionics, propulsion, cameras, power and data transfer) worked correctly or not.
The Astrobee system consists of three cube robots (Honey, Queen and Bumble), software and anchor station, for recharging. The robots can move freely, using electric fans as a propulsion system, returning by themselves to the station to recharge the batteries when necessary.
Anne McClain, an astronaut with the American Space Agency, did the first test series of an Astrobee robot – the Bumble – during a hardware check. The station was installed in the Kibo module at ISS on 15 February. Bumble and Honey were released on April 17th.
The test aimed to assess to what extent robots could take care of spacecraft when astronauts are out. According to NASA, "robots will play a significant role in the return mission to the moon, among other missions that will be carried out in deep space."