Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Tokyo, Japan (4E) – Instead of human astronauts, Japan intends to explore the Moon and Mars and undertake future space voyages with what they call “long-distance remote controlled avatar robots.”
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will partner with ANA Holdings Inc. (the largest airline in Japan in fleet size) and Meltin MMI (a Tokyo-based research and development venture focusing on cyborg technologies) to develop an avatar robot named MELTANT.
The three partners are working to push forward the Avatar X program with the start of full-scale development on the MELTANT avatar robot for deployment in space. JAXA revealled the Avatar X program early this month, and disclosed plans to send humanoid machines, or avatar robots such as MELTANT controlled by human operators, into space or to other planetary bodies.
Meltin said it plans to operate the avatar robot MELTANT in every type of space environment, including on a space station or at bases on the Moon or on Mars. It said MELTANT will build bases, repair equipment and even perform surgeries on humans.
Meltin asserts long-distance remote control robots like MELTANT will protect astronauts from the dangers of space and reduce the very expensive costs of space missions. Avatar robots will bring about improvements in safety, efficiency, and cost effectiveness. These human-controlled machines will contribute to advances in space technology and establishing usable regions in space.
Ultimately, substitute operations conducted with avatar robots hold the key to shortening the distance to space and will make possible extremely long-distance explorations to the outer planets of our Solar System – and exploration of nearby galaxies like Alpha Centauri.
The outstanding characteristic built into MELTANT is its very human-like and human-looking hands. Meltin says that since MELTANT’s hands are strong and flexible, it can replace people in various operations.
MELTANT’s robot hands are the same size as a human’s and provide the same power, speed, freedom, and haptics. Because it can be controlled intuitively, MELTANT’s hands allow it to replace humans in many high-level operations in space.
MELTANT will later be field tested in simulated Moon conditions. This test will also see a live demonstration of its remote controls.
The three Avatar X partners will build a test facility in Japan in 2019. They plan to send the technologies they develop to the International Space Station by 2020 for further testing in space.
Once operational, MELTANT will be deployed in every type of environment in space: in space hotels; at a lunar base at a Mars base or in-orbit services such as those to the ISS.
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