Russia could soon be sending its first humanoid robots into space to join the astronaut crew on board the International Space Station (ISS), according to a report by Defense One.
The media outlet cites the Russian state news website RIA Novosti, which yesterday announced that the Russian space agency Roscosmos has approved the preliminary plan to ship off the nation’s first pair of androids to the ISS as early as next year.
The robots are part of Russia’s FEDOR program, short for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, launched in 2014 and originally designed for rescue work.
The androids are developed by the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects by order of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, notes Russia Beyond, and could be sent off to space in August 2019, per RIA Novosti, which states that the information comes from “a source in the space and rocket industry.”
The FEDOR androids are able to function automatically and can perform a wide array of tasks — demonstrated in the 2016 video below, which shows one of the humanoid robots using a saw, inserting a key to unlock a door, welding, extinguishing a fire, and even getting into a car.
Another video posted on YouTube on the previous month showcased a FEDOR android actually driving a car.
Because the androids also function through a special avatar-suit, which transmits the movements of a human operator, they were previously referred to as the Avatar project, RT reported at the time the video was released.
Since the Russian androids have demonstrated impressive handyman skills and the project engineers later stated that the robots are fit to perform in various environments, including those of future space missions, Russia deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of the Russian defense industry, commissioned the FEDOR program to be adapted for the nation’s upcoming manned spaceflights.
Since then, the androids have acquired new skills, learning how to do push-ups, lift weights, operate a power drill, fist-bump, and even shoot Glocks with both hands, as seen in the 2017 YouTube video below.
This latest skill has prompted Rogozin to come out and say outright that the FEDOR android is not a Terminator robot, “but artificial intelligence that will be of great practical significance in various fields,” The Independent reported last April.
According to a statement from Samuel Bendett, an associate research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses and a fellow in Russia studies at the American Foreign Policy Council, the FEDOR android “was initially designed as a proof of concept — and the space role for this robot was implied from the beginning.”
“It does make for a very effective military ‘android’ in official videos where its shooting guns, but ultimately it’s a dual-use work frame for hard-to-do projects like working in space or in other hazardous environments.”
As the Inquisitr previously reported, NASA flew its very own android to the ISS to help out the crew with daily tasks. Unfortunately, the Robonaut 2 android broke in 2014 and was sent home for repairs on board the SpaceX Dragon capsule that made the company’s 14th cargo delivery to the space station.