A team of French researchers have developed Nao, a humanoid or a robot with an autobiographical memory for use aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Al set to become the first permanent member on board the famous spacecraft, Nao will then pass on knowledge acquired from previous astronauts to the new ones who come to take their place every six months.
For cultural transmission of knowledge, a robot must understand cooperative behaviour. Researchers working on Nao have therefore developed a system which allows a human agent to teach Nao new actions through a voice command, visual imitation or physical demonstration.
These instructions thus given to him are then combined into procedures and stored in his autobiographical memory, thereby enabling him to reproduce them for future members if required.
“The transmission of information on board is essential, since crews change every six months. In this scenario, an electronic card is damaged,” said senior researcher Peter Ford Dominey from the Institut cellule souche et cerveau (Inserm/UniversitA© Claude Bernard Lyon 1).
To test how good Nao is how useful he could be at a later stage, researchers working on him imagined a scenario wherein an electric card had got damaged, with the robot playing the scientist’s’ assistant. He was asked to follow directions, bring or hold parts of the card while standing by their side as they worked on the damaged part.
They expect Nao to be able to guide anyone else dealing with the same or similar problem later since he has watched the entire repair process and stored it in his system.
Autobiographical memory includes events experienced by Nao himself along with their context. He will thus be able to record events along with their dates and the names of those present when it took place.
“This technological progress could notably be used for operations on the orbiting laboratory,” added Dominey.
The humanoid robot Robonaut 2 is a result of close collaboration between NASA and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The joint team is now looking forward to testing it in space like conditions which include zero gravity.