NASA's Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI), through the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL), has teamed up with Freelancer.com to work on a free-flying robot. The project will involve designing concepts for a robotic arm for the Astrobee free-flying robot that will succeed the SPHERES robot on the International Space Station (ISS). NASA and Freelancer will be crowdsourcing parts from the site's 17 million freelancers all over the world. Do you want to be a part of this incredible journey? Here's what you need to know.
The next generation free-flyer robot should be able to move around inside the space station on its own without interfacing or interfering with the space station. It will be able to do a lot of things, but one of the main additions to it is a small, lightweight, robotic arm, which will be used for perching and interacting with small objects. NASA is working on its own design, but has decided to crowdsource for an alternative concept, which could provide complementary or enhanced capabilities.
Over the next few months, the project will launch in three phases:
Phase 1 – Currently underway, it is a registration contest through which NASA is shortlisting the top 30 freelancers who will be taking part in the competition.
Phase 2 – Each of the 30 freelancers selected in Phase 1 will be required to break down options for the system architecture of the robotic arm. NASA wants freelancers to help them figure out multiple ways to approach creating a decomposed architecture of a complex system.
Phase 3 – NASA will be crowdsourcing the detailed designs of many of those subcomponents based on the specifications created by the 30 freelancers in Phase 2 though the wider pool of over 17 million freelancers on Freelancer.com.
For more details, read the official press release.
This isn't the first time that NASA has collaborated with Freelancer.com. Last year, NASA and Freelancer.com hosted a total of 22 challenges, which included a Smartwatch app to be used by ISS Astronauts; tools for the Robonaut R2, the humanoid robot that does the most dangerous tasks on the ISS; and other NASA challenges, such as a banner for the NASA Human Health and Performance Center (NHHPC).
Do you want to be a part of the NASA-Freelancer team? The registration contest ends in one day. Join now!
UPDATE: The registration contest for Phase 1 has now ended. Stay tuned for the next phases!