Meet Lemur IIa, the Autonomous Space Handyman Robot

Versatile robots will rule the heavens, or at least ensure that they run efficiently

Swiss Army Knife for Space Vehicles

Astronauts can add tools to the limbs of the Lemur IIa robotThomas Slager (See the Lemur IIa up close!)

Lemur IIa is a robot designed to autonomously inspect and maintain in-orbit space equipment such as the Orion crew exploration vehicle. Shown below on a model space telescope, the Lemur IIa was envisioned as an orbital Swiss Army knife. Each limb has four degrees of freedom and a "quick connect" feature, allowing astronauts to swap in different repair tools as needed.

Two stereo cameras are affixed to a circular track, which lets the robot see 360 degrees. Robots like Lemur IIa, its cliff-scaling sibling, Lemur IIb, and their heavy-lift cargo-hauling cousin Athlete are part of a suite that will help NASA revisit the moon and eventually send humans to explore Mars. Vehicles based on Athlete could carry equipment on the moon; Lemur IIb's descendants could climb Martian cliffs while collecting soil samples.


The Lemur IIb robot climbs a wallThomas Slager