Putting a round peg in a round hole is not hard for someone standing next to it. But ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen did this while orbiting 400 km up aboard the International Space Station, remotely operating a rover and its robotic arm on the ground.
"NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) successfully have used an experimental version of interplanetary Internet to control an educational rover from the International Space Station. The experiment used NASA's Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocol to transmit messages and demonstrate technology that one day may enable Internet-like communications with space vehicles and support habitats or infrastructure on another planet. Space station Expedition 33 commander Sunita Williams in late October used a NASA-developed laptop to remotely drive a small LEGO robot at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. The European-led experiment used NASA's DTN to simulate a scenario in which an astronaut in a vehicle orbiting a planetary body controls a robotic rover on the planet's surface."More
"ESA and NASA have tested a communications protocol that will allow astronauts to control robots from space stations orbiting planets or asteroids. The test marks the way for a trial-run with an astronaut on the International Space Station next week. Last week a Space Station user centre at the University of Boulder, USA sent a command to a NASA laptop on the International Space Station to start a script that controlled the Mocup robot at ESA's ESOC operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany. The robot was commanded to move forward and take pictures, which it performed as planned. Mocup is one of the robots in ESA's Meteron - Multi-purpose End-To-End Robotic Operations Network - initiative for future missions to the Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies. Space exploration will most likely involve sending robotic explorers to test the waters on uncharted planets before sending humans to land." More
"Challenged to design a background for a small rover controlled from space, students in Germany have delivered a futuristic cityscape. The cool space art will be seen by astronauts in orbit via the rover's camera eye as they remotely control their avatar later this year. The ultimate goal is for robot astronauts to roam around hazardous places like Mars and asteroids guided by human controllers safely orbiting overhead in their spacecraft. As a first step, ESA is linking the International Space Station and Earth for remotely controlling terrestrial test robots from the orbital outpost."
"This is the culmination of my last year's work. I control the robot's arms through the Kinect and Wii remotes. I control the robot's navigation through the Kinect and treadmill. I control the robot's head through the head mounted display (HMD). I also see through the robot's eyes with the HMD. After doing this exercise, it became apparent that the next feature to add is hearing and speaking through the robot. Luckily both the NAO and my HMD have microphones and speakers so this shouldn't be too difficult."More information.
This about this: In addition to recreating the basic technology depicted in the film "Avatar", this also shos how straightforward it is to create telepresence. One would hope NASA is looking at simple, commercially available and easily adaptable interfaces such as these whereby Robonuat can be controlled - from the ISS and from Earth.