Concept I introduced long ago in TMP2 as the Inchworm orbital service robot is now being demonstrated by the ESA with the new Russian addition to the ISS.
It is much like a human arm. It has an elbow, shoulders and even wrists. The European Robotic Arm (ERA) is the first robot able to ‘walk’ around the Russian segment of the International Space Station.
Light yet powerful, the orbital arm has the ability to anchor itself to the Station and move back and forward by itself, hand-over-hand between fixed base-points. This space robot looks like a pair of compasses and has a length of over 11 m. When stretched, it could pass a football from a penalty spot to the goalkeeper.
The robot will serve as main manipulator on the Russian part of the Space Station. Its seven joints can handle multi-tonne payloads with a large range of motion for assembly tasks.