NASA has long been at the cutting edge of technological innovation, and now, the space exploration agency is investing in what may well be the technology of the future. Its latest proposed concepts include, among others, shape-shifting robots that many thought would only be seen as special effects in science fiction films.
Future Tech Concepts, One Step Closer to Becoming Real
NASA’s department of Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) is working on robotic shapeshifters that can fly through alien atmospheres. These should also be able to transform and roll like a ball along the ground or reshape themselves into underwater drones.
Such robotic devices would be ideal for exploring the multifaceted environment of Jupiter’s moon, Europe. A vast sea is believed to exist there beneath a miles-thick layer of ice crust.
Another prime location for shapeshifters is Titan, Saturn’s moon, which harbors oceans, rugged landscapes, rivers, and cave formations. Both Europa and Titan are considered excellent candidates for bearing alien lifeforms.
The NIAC team has also proposed a biobot which would handle life support equipment for astronauts. This biobot would be tethered to a companion robot. Using an umbilical system, it would keep an astronaut supplied with life-sustaining essentials during long treks across extra-planetary environments.
Shapeshifter and biobots are just some of the future tech concepts coming out of NIAC. Another is a flying amphibious robot (FAR) which is made up of smaller robotic units called “cobots.” Cobots have an extremely simple design – such as a unit with propellers that can travel watery environments while sending back data.
NASA has long been an expert at getting multiple uses out of relatively small units of technology. This is because of the challenge of launching large, heavy payloads into space. Once a mission launches, it’s on its own, cut off from Earth.
Such future tech concepts can create robotic units with multiple purposes. Ones that could significantly enhance the scope of research and data collection during far-flung space missions.
NASA published the full list of 25 technology proposals for its early, Phase I proposals at the end of last month.
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