Originally posted on MAKE:
On a dusty lot at Moffett Field, CA that’s been made to simulate a lunar landscape, NASA showed off what they hope will be the next step in our exploration of the solar system: telerobotics. That’s a fancy name for remote control, but it’s a lot fancier than most remote control vehicles.
We’re already quite familiar with very long-distance telerobitcs: the Mars rovers do this. The problem with the Mars rovers is that one command from Earth can take seven minutes or longer to get to the rover, and the result can’t be known for another seven minutes. What NASA is testing here is much shorter range. In fact, today the range was about 250 miles – the distance between the test site and the International Space Station, which was directly controlling the K10 robot rolling around on our moonscape.
NASA is calling this “Surface Telerobotics,” and the K10s have been designed with the idea that they’ll be landing probes, operated by astronauts in orbits above the surface of the Moon, Mars, or other sites where the communication lag will be minimal, allowing real-time control. Really, just like the M.A.L.P. from Stargate SG-1.