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Freelance for NASA?

Posted on 1.19.2016

Crowdsourcing is a popular way to harness the intelligence of hundreds or thousands of people and this week NASA is even reaching out via Freelancer.com to come up with alternative concepts to its free-flying robot.

NASA is recruiting freelancers from Freelancer.com to design a concept for a robotic arm as part of a next generation free-flying robot that NASA is developing as a follow-on to the SPHERES autonomous free-flying robot on the ISS. According to the join press release, Astrobee will have many new capabilities, but one of the principal additions is a small, lightweight robotic arm, which will be used for perching and interacting with small objects. NASA is working on its own design but decided to also reach out to the crowd to come up with an alternative concept, which could provide complementary or enhanced capabilities.

“NASA and Freelancer.com achieved great success with crowdsourcing on Freelancer.com to build CAD models to help train the image recognition system of the Robonaut 2 robotic astronaut,” said CEO Matt Barrie. “We are now excited to be tapping into the collective ability of over 17 million freelancers to design a robotic arm that could possibly be used with the successor to the SPHERES robot on the International Space Station. It showcases the phenomenal breadth and depth of talent available worldwide on Freelancer.com.”

As the crowdsourcing model because even more mature (it was a term coined way back in 2005), it’ll be interesting to see what other companies and organizations use the power of the crowd to innovate and how that impacts traditional in-house positions as well as pay.

What do you think of the crowdsource model? Sound off in the comments below.


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