SpacePet is an imagineering idea of mine to test the first artificial pet for zero gravity environments. Humans love pets. Humans will spend more time in zero-g. Could artificial pets in zero-g space stations provide valuable monitoring and help reduce stress in astronauts?
Someone will be first to put artificial pets in space; why not NASA and the US of A? The watchdog, canary in a coal mine, and stress reducing potential of an artificial pet is potentially significant for astronaut health and productivity. Artificial pets have proven to give some of the positive aspects of a living pet. The time is coming when more and more people will live long-term in places like the space station and planetary bases where real pets can not survive.
I’ve been passionate about supporting space exploration as long as I can remember. This idea grabbed hold of me when I was in graduate school in 2006. I was inspired by the way the Tribbles on the original Star Trek TV show were so attractive to the crew of the Enterprise – and to the viewers, that that episode became the most popular of the series. At the same time I’ve always been struck by how the necessarily-cold aesthetic of the International Space Station is in need of humanizing.
I built a few prototypes in 2006 through 2008 while in graduate school at NYU. During that research I learned that MIT and NASA had built the SPHERES and my project went cold as I researched I how much time and energy that SPHERES took, and how well it was already being done. Every year though, I’d do a bit more research of ways to build a prototype because I love imagineering the idea of an artificial pet. I spent a lot of time imagineering a prototype that could be tested on a “vomit comet” plane during bouts of reduced gravity, specifically the Zero Gravity Corporation’s research flights costing about $7000.00.
I spec’ed out everything from ducted fan jets in RC planes embedded in styrofoam spheres to Arduino-powered hexacopter platforms put onto a sphere to repurposing DIY blimp kits. But fans spin, and in zero gravity, that will also spin the machine holding the fan.
I also thought of using Piezo fans as tiny thrusters, because they don’t spin.
My favorite wacky idea was using three gyroscopes to stabilize a sphere and control its orientation, and then have a few thrusters to move it. I was inspired by a Stanford University project that is exploring what they call Exploration Hedgehogs that use three internal gyros http://www.stanford.edu/~pavone/niac.html. There also exists a three-gyro experiment on the ISS using three CD players.
Similar Space-Based Robot Companion Projects
Mars habitation dome project in Hawaii. http://hi-seas.org
ROBOTIC COMPANIONS FOR LONG TERM ISOLATION SPACE MISSIONS
Hi-Seas Project: http://hi-seas.org/?p=299
Simon Engler‘s work a Rover, Romibo and Pleo bots.
2 minutes in to this video is his covered in blue fur like the SpacePet: Discover Magazine, A Day In the Life of a Fake Astronaut http://youtu.be/vT6hO_U3Z9s?t=2m4s
Three SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) are up on the International Space Station right now waiting to be covered in green fur!
- Main site: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/311.html
- Darpa site: http://sphereswg.arc.nasa.gov
- MIT site: http://ssl.mit.edu/spheres/
- Zero Robotics competition site: http://www.zerorobotics.org/web/zero-robotics/home-public
- Smartphone usage recently: http://ti.arc.nasa.gov/news/iss-spheres-demo/and
- Android Cellbots software: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cellbots
- TED How to Live With Robots series of talks.
- Steve Yohanan’s PhD thesis, “The Haptic Creature: Social Human-Robot Interaction through Affective Touch.” http://yohanan.org/steve/projects/haptic-creature/Kibo. Japanese companion bot, who’s already logged some zero-g time!http://kibo-robo.jp/en/
- BINA48. The most concious?
- Romibo: http://www.romibo.org/
- PLEO robot companion
- Paro, the Japanese therapeutic robot seal: http://www.parorobots.com/
- Nao Robot. Nao teaching math
- ELIZA. One of the original “dumb” computer chat bots that often acted a therapist.
- Cleverbot. Learning chat bot.
- Oboto, virtual reality robot app.
- SmartPhone Therapist article.
- Sphero. A little waterproof ball that is controlled by a smart phone
- Woogie. A plush smartphone cover/stuffed animal with an App.
- Monster iPhone cover. Ion
- Gizmodo Article: The Unholy Offspring of a Tribble and a Roomba, Mocoro floor cleaning bot
- iRobot’s programmable edu model: http://store.irobot.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2586252&cp=2591511&s=A-ProductAge&parentPage=family
- “Simple behaviors elicit complex attachments.” Judith Donath, The Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior. http://smg.media.mit.edu/people/judith/jsd.writing.html
- Burns, M.N., Begale, M., Duffecy, J., Gergle, D., Karr, C.J., Giangrande, E., & Mohr, D. (2011). Harnessing Context Sensing to Develop a Mobile Intervention for Depression. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 13(3):e55. [PDF]
- Science Explains Wilson the Volleyball. Story on emotions related to Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway. New York Times, January 22, 2008, By John Tierney.
- Emotional Robot article in Space Daily.http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Emotional_Robot_Pets_999.html
- Robots Say the Damnedest Things. GQ Article
- Talking Machines. RadioLab podcast
- Article on the wonderful Nao robot’s emotional capabilities.http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/aug/09/nao-robot-develop-display-emotions
- Polson Enterprises Virtual Pets Research bibliography.http://www.virtualpet.com/vp/research/research.htm
- The Center For Disease Control (CDC) pet health benefits brief.http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health_benefits.htm
- Pet Therapy article at the Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pet-therapy/MY02122
- Cat test in space: National Archives and Records Administration Record #68700, BIOASTRONAUTICS RESEARCH. 09/26/1947.http://archive.org/details/gov.archives.arc.68700
- NASA test toys in space : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khLdL3X5acY&feature=share&list=PLiuUQ9asub3Ru9GIOTbZFRa4f2R_kM0tx
- NASA Test of three spinning disks on ISS using CD players:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdAmEEAiJWo.
- http://www.piezo.com/prodfan0nav.html, http://www.engadget.com/2012/12/12/ge-dual-piezo-jets/
- http://www.diydrones.com and http://code.google.com/p/arducopter/ to repurposing DIY blimp kits http://www.instructables.com/id/Sub-Micro-Blimp/.
- 20 Favorite Movie Robots from ScreenRant.com