Russia is reportedly sending two humanoid robots to the International Space Station. The robots called FEDOR have remarkable abilities such as being able to fire guns and drive a car.
The reported emerged as the Roscosmos space agency green-lighted plans to send the robots into space aboard an unmanned Soyuz spacecraft next August.
Earlier robots were sent into space as cargo but the RIA Novosti website reported that two FEDORS, which stand for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, will fly to the ISS as crew members.
Trained To Fire Pistols
Last year, Dmitry Rogozin, director general of Roscosmos, said that the country's FEDOR robot was learning to shoot guns using both arms, adding that this new ability may help in improving the motion and decision-making skills of the robot.
Rogozin shared photos and a short video on Facebook and Twitter of the robot's new ability to fire a pair of pistols at a target board with remarkable precision. Amid fears of killing machines, Rogozin assured the public that Russia is merely creating artificial intelligence and not a deadly robot.
"Shooting exercises is a method of teaching the robot to set priorities and make instant decisions. We are creating AI, not Terminator," he tweeted in April last year.
Besides the ability to shoot guns, the Fedor robot was also trained to lift weights, operate a drill, do push-ups, screw light bulbs, walk upright, insert keys into a lock, open doors, and drive.
The robot was initially developed for rescue work but engineers have suggested military uses for it.
Robots In Space
Space agencies including NASA have been working on robots designed for a space mission. In 2015, the U.S. space agency sent a humanoid robot called Robonaut 2 aboard the ISS. It was the first dexterous humanoid robot to be sent into space.
In June, SpaceX's 15th cargo mission to the ISS delivered the AI Robot CIMON. Astronauts will use the Crew Interactive Mobile Companion or CIMON to find out how artificial intelligence may augment tasks in a space habitat.
ISS crew members will assess how intelligent robots can lessen the stress and simplify the work of astronauts, which could have important implications for long-term space missions. NASA has long recognized the potential contributions of robots in space missions.
"NASA is counting on robots to setup and care for deep space exploration facilities and equipment pre-deployed ahead of astronauts," said Sasha Congiu Ellis, from NASA's Langley Research Center. "Robots are also excellent precursors for conducting science missions ahead of human exploration."