Plans for the Space Avatar Project are on the way. Avatarin and JAXA collaborated on a previous partnership which ran from September 2018 to December 2020. In November 2020 Avatarin and JAXA organized a technology demonstration in which an actual space avatar has been deployed inside the Japanese experiment module ‘KIBO’ on the ISS (International Space Station). They made the avatar available to the general public to operate from a public setting on Earth. This was the world’s very first event of this kind. Continuing on the success of the previous project, this new Space Avatar Project partnership aims to further explore and develop the use of space avatars. It is supposed to help with remote space travel, remote work assistance and remote space-themed experiences. The new project demonstrates the increasing role of robots onboard the ISS. With this new type of avatar that will act as a co-worker for astronauts on the station and on other settings like the moon, this project is already getting a lot of attention from scientists around the world. While most of these avatars will be used for work with high-precision hands, others will act only for a special entertainment experience.
The usage cases from the official press release are:
- Remote space travel
A service to allow customers on Earth access communication-focused space avatars deployed in the ISS and other outer space settings. To implement this plan, the Partnership will leverage avatar technology to develop a space avatar that will be deployed in the ISS and controlled remotely from Earth with an added capability to move freely within the space facility. This plan will be promoted under the slogan ”SPACE FOR ALL―open a new era of commercial space travel,” with the hopes of democratizing the commercial space travel era that is rapidly being developed by private space businesses.
- Remote work assistance
A service that leverages avatar technology to assist astronauts with performing duties in the ISS and future outer space settings, including the lunar surface. The aim of this service is to increase astronaut work efficiency and facilitate work handover. For this purpose, the Partnership will develop two types of space avatars―one for remote communication and another for tasks that require high-precision avatar hands.
- Remote Space-themed experiences
A service to be provided by deploying “newme”, avatarin’s proprietary robotic avatar, to enable remote on-site tours at JAXA’s facilities, nurturing interest in space exploration and offering opportunities to learn about related efforts. This service aims to make JAXA’s facilities more accessible for space education opportunities to a larger audience. To implement this service plan, the Partnership will run a demonstration program for newme-enabled remote tours in the space museum located at Tanegashima Space Center.
It is not clear yet when the avatars will become available for a tourism space trip. The plans however already exceed only work on the ISS, but “possible robotics technologies that can be effectively deployed in future space exploration missions”.