"Fedor" in space. Simple experiences and a great future

On August 27, the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft docked to the International Space Station with a special payload on board. This time, the manned spacecraft was carrying not people, but a special kind of equipment. The cabin housed the human-shaped multipurpose robot Skybot F-850 / FEDOR and auxiliary equipment for it. Currently, the ISS crew is conducting the first checks of the new complex and is preparing to solve more complex problems.

Launching a rocket with Fedor aboard

First Russian

It should be noted that the Russian “Fedor” did not manage to become the first anthropomorphic robot aboard the ISS. Back in 2011, a NASA Robonaut 2 product was delivered to the station. However, the F-850 is the first Russian development of this kind, not only to reach the test, but also to space.

History FEDOR began in 2014 when the Advanced Research Foundation launched the design of a multi-purpose anthropomorphic robotic system. The development of such a system was carried out by FPI and NPO Android Technique. Initially, the product was intended for the Ministry of Emergency Situations and had to work in conditions dangerous to humans. The project was based on developments on existing SAR-400 and SAR-401 robots.

Creating a basic platform was associated with some difficulties, but in 2015-16. the project has moved to a new stage. Then there was a proposal to create a specialized version of the complex for operation in space. Such a robot is called "Fedor" or FEDOR (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research). Not so long ago, the complex was renamed to Skybot F-850.

On August 22, the new RTK was sent to the ISS. There were some malfunctions in the flight to the station, due to which the docking was only possible on August 27. The ISS crew has already begun to master new technology in real conditions.

Work in orbit

In the near future, "Fedor" will not have long, but work hard in orbit. Details of the scientific program with his participation have not yet been disclosed, but some information has already appeared. In general, various works of one kind or another are planned, in which a robot under the control of a person will interact with different objects and perform certain tasks.

Together with the robot, the so-called copy type master device - a special “exoskeleton” for the operator, allowing him to control the movement of the robot. Using ZUKT, the operator can monitor with the eyes of a robot, as well as exercise complete control over the manipulators. All experiments within the framework of the current flight will be carried out using a combination of F-850 and ZUKT.

It is reported that in the first days in orbit, the new robot managed to participate in several experiments. "Fedor" showed his ability to work with various hand tools and some equipment of the station. New experiments are expected in which the promising RTK will show its different capabilities of various kinds.

At the same time, we are not talking about the withdrawal of the robot into outer space. The head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, recently said that such experiments will be carried out during the next flight of Fedor to the ISS. This flight, according to current plans, will take place only after two or three years. By this time, the complex will be finalized according to the results of trial operation and will be able to more fully meet the characteristic conditions of space.

In the meantime, Skybot F-850 is used only within the International Space Station. To carry out all the necessary experiments and experiments left just over a week. On 6 on September, the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft undocked from the ISS and returned Fedor home. Then, the developers of this RTK will have to analyze the information collected, which will allow us to proceed with finalizing the project to meet new requirements.

Great promise

So far, FEDOR / F-850 has the status of a prototype designed for testing in laboratories, test sites and the ISS. The full implementation of such systems in space practice is still far away, but the prospects for this process are already clear. The appearance, development and implementation of anthropomorphic robotic systems is of great interest to the space industry, both domestic and world.

Robot and operator with ZUKT

The main goal of the project, the result of which was Fedor, was the creation of an RTK capable of replacing a person when working in dangerous conditions. In the context of the space program, this primarily means that the robot will be able to go into open space and work there for the astronauts.

This can greatly simplify the preparation and conduct of work. RTK does not need food and rest, which allows you to keep it “overboard” for a longer time. Cosmonauts-operators will be able to replace each other, observing the optimal mode for them. Also, the robot can be controlled by an operator on Earth - thanks to this, astronauts in case of difficulty can get more complete assistance from the outside.

Officials indicated that a special modification of the F-850 could be created in the future to operate outside the ISS. Such an RTK will receive optimized means of transportation to work on the station’s surface and will be able to constantly be outside, waiting for a command to act. The value of such a complex for the International Space Station is obvious.

A remotely controlled robot can also be useful inside the ISS. With its help, specialists from the Earth will be able to take a direct part in various studies and experiments. This will reduce the load on the crew, as well as provide a larger range of research with the involvement of relevant scientists and engineers.

Some advantages are expected in the operation of robots on existing and promising spacecraft. In particular, it is proposed to introduce “Fedor” into the crew of the “Union” or “Federation” as an observer. Working offline, he will be able to quickly analyze all incoming data and draw the attention of living astronauts to certain nuances and factors.

In the long run, robotic resistance to stress can come in handy in new space missions. Sending a person to other celestial bodies is associated with known difficulties, and the use of a humanoid robot greatly simplifies such operations. It is possible that in future expeditions to the Moon or Mars, living cosmonauts will be accompanied by RTKs, similar to the current Fedor. The independent use of remotely controlled systems in such missions can be difficult due to the length of the transmission of radio signals.

Thus, the current tests of the Skybot F-850 / FEDOR in the ISS look rather modest, but open the way to a great future. The necessary experience is being accumulated, on the basis of which new important projects will be created in the future.

Near future

“Fedor” arrived on the ISS on 27 on August, and its departure is scheduled for 6 on September. Over the remaining days, the astronauts will have to carry out a lot of experiments of various kinds necessary to determine the real capabilities of the robot. Next, a new stage of design work is expected, according to the results of which the complex will become more effective in solving special space problems.

The next flight of the F-850 or its modified version into orbit is expected in a few years - at the beginning of the twenties. What changes the RTK will undergo before the second start, one can only guess. Representatives of the space industry mentioned some wishes and assumptions, but it is not yet clear which of them will reach practical implementation.

In general, at the moment, the overall success of the Fedor project looks quite serious. The first domestic anthropomorphic robot has already passed a long and successful development on the ground, and now it is delivered to the International Space Station for the first time. In real conditions, it checks its basic capabilities and skills.

Current experiments, despite the relative simplicity, lay the foundation for the further development of domestic space robotics. The developments on Skybot F-850 in its current form in the future will be used in new projects that will ensure the re-equipment of the ISS and the creation of new stations, as well as allow more efficient organization of future interplanetary expeditions. However, before achieving such goals, you need to complete the current test program and return the experienced RTK home.
Ryabov Kirill
Photos used:
Roskosmos / roscosmos.ru
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