The Russian Space Agency has developed its very own NASA-like robot named SAR-401, which is designed to help on the International Space Station (ISS). More specifically on the outside of the ISS.

Designed and built by the Scientific Production Association-Androidnye Technology and the Central Research Institute of Machine Building, SAR-401 could appear pretty pointless when you consider it has no intelligence and can’t think for itslef. But what is amazing is how it is controlled.

SAR-401 robot

An operator, kitted out with a heads-up display helmet, a sensor jacket and haptic-feedback gloves, can control the movements of the robonaut’s limbs. There is a safety mechanism should the robot get its hands stuck in an airlock for example.

“A human life is the most important thing,” Andrei Nosov, the head of the Moscow-based android engineering center, told Voice of Russia. “There are lots of risks up in orbit. Anything can happen. A robot can duplicate the movements of an operator that manipulates it from Earth. It can work both in a duplicate mode and an autonomous mode. This is convenient, less risky and less expensive.”

In other words, no one wants the film Gravity to become a reality.

On Wednesday, the prototype was shown off to journalists at the Yury Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre In Moscow Region’s Star City. The robot is currently being tested terrestrially, with the creators emphasizing how vital it is that the android reach maximum precision in its every move.

The plan is to also use the robot as a communications system, receiving messages from Earth through its hardware which can then be passed to the ISS crew.

However the ISS crew need not fear for their jobs as the head of the Cosmonaut Training Center, Sergey Krikalyov, stressed that the androids won’t be able to replace people in space in the near future.

“A robot can never become a full substitute for a man. It’s interaction, not replacement we’re talking about,” he stressed.

[Image via Vesti]