One of the many challenges presented at the fourth annual SpaceApps challenge was to create a drtone that can operate in a low gravity environment, like the ISS. The SpaceApps challenge is a global hackathon that calls on creative minds to put the mountains of data NASA collects every day to use. The winner of this years ‘bestConcept’ prize was the Arachnobeea, a drone that is capable of docking, flying, twirling, walking in zero-g.
While a the ISS might be a bit cramped for a drone this will certainly be useful in the future, and it will also be quite exciting to see this thing in action in space. Astronauts always get the coolest toys, don’t they?..
One of the hurdles with designing a zero gravity drone is helping it to orient itself while floating around the inside of a spacecraft. To overcome this, the Arachnobeea team concocted a system of sensors that could be placed around the space station. When the Arachnobeea floats or crawls near a sensor, it immediately can determine where it is.
Another problem is how to get the drone to stop moving. Anyone who has watched footage from space knows if an object isn’t being controlled, and isn’t strapped down, it will float around aimlessly. That makes it difficult for a drone to slow down and pick up a tool to deliver to a busy astronaut. But the team designed the Arachnobeea to have little limbs with “hands” it can use to grab and “dock” to different surfaces while it completes a needed task. It’s also equipped with small vacuums, so it can suck itself into a specific point.
This project will incorporate two concepts – a flying platform and a walker robot. This should give him the ability to manoeuvre more efficient, and be flexible enough to solve even more problems than just that of transporting small cargo throughout the facility. This project creates a solution to easily give the targeted cargo’s coordinates and destination to where it should be moved. Deployment of such a solution is also solved in very easy-to-implement, elegant manner.