Russia to send ‘Fedor’ its first humanoid robot into space

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This handout picture taken on July 26, 2019 and released by the official website of the Russian State Space Corporation ROSCOSMOS on August 21, 2019 shows Russian humanoid robot Skybot F-850 (Fedor) being tested ahead of its flight on board Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (AFP)
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This handout picture taken on July 26, 2019 and released by the official website of the Russian State Space Corporation ROSCOSMOS on August 21, 2019 shows Russian humanoid robot Skybot F-850 (Fedor) being tested ahead of its flight on board Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (AFP)
Updated 22 August 2019

Russia to send ‘Fedor’ its first humanoid robot into space

  • Fedor was to blast off in a Soyuz rocket at 6:38 am Moscow time (0338 GMT) from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome
  • Fedor is not the first robot to go into space

MOSCOW: Russia was set to launch on Thursday an unmanned rocket carrying a life-size humanoid robot that will spend 10 days learning to assist astronauts on the International Space Station.
Named Fedor, for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research with identification number Skybot F850, the robot is the first ever sent up by Russia.
Fedor was to blast off in a Soyuz rocket at 6:38 am Moscow time from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, dock with the space station on Saturday and stay till September 7.
The Soyuz spacecraft is normally manned on such trips, but on Thursday no humans will be traveling in order to test a new emergency rescue system.
Instead of cosmonauts, Fedor will sit in a specially adapted pilot’s seat.

The silvery anthropomorphic robot stands one meter 80 centimeters tall (5 foot 11 inches) and weighs 160 kilograms (353 lbs).
Fedor has Instagram and Twitter accounts that describe it as learning new skills such as opening a bottle of water. In the station, it will trial those manual skills in very low gravity.
“That’s connecting and disconnecting electric cables, using standard items from a screwdriver and a spanner to a fire extinguisher,” the Russian space agency’s director for prospective programs and science, Alexander Bloshenko, said in televised comments.
Fedor copies human movements, a key skill that allows it to remotely help astronauts or even people on Earth carry out tasks while they are strapped into an exoskeleton.
Such robots will eventually carry out dangerous operations such as space walks, Bloshenko told RIA Novosti state news agency.
On the website of one of the state backers of the project, the Foundation of Advanced Research Projects, Fedor is described as potentially useful on Earth for working in high radiation environments, de-mining and tricky rescue missions.
On board, the robot will perform tasks supervised by Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, who joined the ISS last month, and will wear an exoskeleton in a series of experiments scheduled for later this month.

Robonaut 2, Kirobo
Space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin showed pictures of the robot to President Vladimir Putin this month, saying it will be “an assistant to the crew.”
“In the future we plan that this machine will also help us conquer deep space,” he added.
Fedor is not the first robot to go into space.
In 2011, NASA sent up Robonaut 2, a humanoid robot developed with General Motors and a similar aim of working in high-risk environments.
It was flown back to Earth in 2018 after experiencing technical problems.
In 2013, Japan sent up a small robot called Kirobo along with the ISS’s first Japanese space commander. Developed with Toyota, it was able to hold conversations — albeit only in Japanese.


Philippines’ Duterte cuts short Japan trip in ‘unbearable pain’

Updated 32 min 5 sec ago

Philippines’ Duterte cuts short Japan trip in ‘unbearable pain’

  • The 74-year-old hurt his hip in the crash last week, with his health already the subject of intense speculation
  • Questions over his health have swirled since he took office in 2016

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, suffering from “unbearable pain” in his spine after a motorcycle accident, is cutting short a trip to Japan, his spokesman said Tuesday.
The 74-year-old hurt his hip in the crash last week, with his health already the subject of intense speculation following his disclosure earlier this month that he is suffering from a disease that causes one of his eyelids to droop.
A statement from the leader’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte would leave Japan sooner than planned, having attended the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito with the aid of a cane.
“The palace announces that the president will cut short his trip to Japan due to unbearable pain in his spinal column near the pelvic bone,” Panelo said.
Duterte later described his predicament in a short video clip posted on Facebook by Senator Christopher Go, a former chief aide who accompanied him on the trip.
“If you ride motorbikes you will experience a crash once or twice in your life. All those who are into motorbikes, they crash like I did,” he said, grimacing and moaning while sat in the back of a car beside Go.
“I can’t bear it, it’s around my belt area (waistline), about three inches. It’s really painful,” added the president, who Go said was on his way back to the Philippines.
Panelo said the pain was “a consequence” of the motorcycle accident that the presidency said Duterte had suffered on the palace grounds.
The leader fell off his vehicle just 10 days after he publicly revealed that he has myasthenia gravis, which causes muscle weakness and can result in drooping of eyelids, blurred vision as well as weakness in a person’s extremities.
Questions over his health have swirled since he took office in 2016, with Duterte at times skipping events and meetings or discussing his various ailments in long and rambling speeches.
He has previously said he used to take fentanyl, a potent opioid painkiller, because of a spinal injury caused by other motorcycle accidents when he was younger.
According to Duterte, his doctor made him stop using fentanyl on learning he was “abusing the drug” by using more than the prescribed patches.
Duterte has also said he suffers from migraines and other illnesses including Buerger’s disease, which is characterised by inflammation of blood vessels, usually due to smoking.
Duterte will see his neurologist Wednesday after flying back to Manila late Tuesday, while his daughter Sara Duterte Carpio will represent him at the emperor’s banquet late Tuesday, Panelo said.
The Filipino leader attended Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony earlier Tuesday using a cane to help him walk, he added.
Senator Go also released a photo of the president sitting down with his forehead propped up by a cane.
The Philippine constitution requires the handover of power to the vice president if the leader dies or is incapacitated.
However Panelo said Tuesday “the public can rest assured that there is nothing to worry about as regards the physical health and condition of the president.”