Rachel Hoover
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Stanford Center for Internet & Society
April 4, 2012
NASA Robots Showcased at Stanford University's 'Robot Block Party'
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – Two cutting-edge NASA prototype robots will be featured during a "Robot Block Party" at Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. from 1 – 6 p.m. PDT, Wednesday, April 11, 2012. The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is hosting the free public event as part of the third annual National Robotics Week.

Robotic technology from the Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., will be on display, including a volleyball-sized free-flying satellite, known as "Smart SPHERES." Also featured will be a prototype robot based on a dynamically-controlled "tensegrity structure" – a collection of rods connected and suspended by tensioned cables – called "TenseBot."

The International Space Station currently houses three Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) equipped with a Nexus™ S Smartphone made by Samsung Electronics and using Google’s Android™ platform. Later this year, the IRG will remotely control the Smart SPHERES from the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston. The test will simulate a mobile inspection of the space station to see how well the free-flying robots can collect data using the smartphone's camera and sensors.

The TenseBot will be used to explore how tensegrity structures, which are typically built as architectural art exhibits, can be controlled by computers. Researchers in the IRG are interested in tension-based structures because they have great potential to save space, weight and energy and can be used for a variety of tasks on NASA's future space missions, including deploying antennas, aligning large payloads and pointing solar arrays.

Other robotic technology on display at the Robot Block Party includes robots that drive cars, climb walls, assemble delicate parts, and help perform medical procedures.

The Robot Block Party will be held in the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab at 473 Oak Rd, off Stock Farm Rd, Stanford. Park in Parking Structure 5, or adjacent lots.

National Robotics Week is organized by the Robotics Caucus of the U.S. Congress and leading robotics companies, schools, and organizations.

For more information about the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames, visit:

For more information about the Silicon Valley Robot Block Party at Stanford, visit:

For more information about National Robotics Week, visit:

For more information about the International Space Station, visit:


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