NASA is sending self-charging robotic 'bees' to space station

The Astrobees will work with astronauts on experiments and routine tasks.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou

The Astrobees act like bees, even if they don't look like them.


New robots are about to create a buzz in space.

Three hovering  robots , dubbed Astrobees, will be heading to the International Space Station to help astronauts conduct research, do maintenance and track inventory,  NASA  said Tuesday in a blog post.

The Astrobees have been developed and built at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. They use fans to move, can turn on any axis and go forward in any direction in space. Each robot has cameras and sensors for navigation and a robotic arm to handle tasks. They run on battery and can dock at a power station and recharge themselves automatically.

They'll also help researchers carry out experiments, test technologies and study human-robot interaction in space, NASA said. The results could help humans prepare to explore the moon and other planets. Two of the three Astrobees are expected to head to the space station this month.