The Int-Ball, also known as the JEM Internal Ball Camera, is an experimental, autonomous, self-propelled, and maneuverable ball camera that is deployed in the Japanese Kibō module of the International Space Station. It was delivered aboard SpaceX CRS-11 on June 4, 2017.[1] The Int-Ball is intended to perform some of the photo-video documentation workload aboard the ISS. The Int-Ball was designed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and is controlled and monitored by a team of JAXA ground controllers.[2][3]

Peggy Whitson interacting with the JEM Internal Ball Camera.

The Int-Ball naturally floats in the station's zero-gravity environment, allowing it to maneuver freely within the ISS. It weighs 1 kg (2.2 lb), is 15 cm (5.9 in) in diameter, and is propelled by an array of 12 small electric fans mounted on the ball's outer surface. The unit shares many similarities with Earth-based drone motion control and drone camera systems. The Int-Ball's motion control system is capable of executing a rotation on any axis, and is also capable of overall movement in any general direction. The internal structural elements and outer body of the Int-Ball system were produced using 3D printing. The simulated "eyes" modeled on the exterior of the ball represent the direction of the "gaze" of the Int-Ball, which is in fact a single camera lens situated in the approximate center of the two "eyes".[1]

The Int-Ball system was designed with the hope of reducing or eliminating the amount of time spent by astronauts aboard the ISS in photo-video documentation activities, which have been estimated to consume approximately 10% of the astronauts' work time.[1] The robotic photo-video documentation duties that the Int-Ball performs have been likened by some to the types of responsibilities that the fictional R2-D2 of the Star Wars movie series appeared to undertake.[4][needs update]

See alsoEdit

  • CIMON, floating robot deployed on the ISS by Airbus
  • Kirobo, interactive humanoid robot deployed on the ISS by JAXA
  • Robonaut2, semi-humanoid robot deployed on the ISS by NASA


  1. ^ a b c "First disclosure of images taken by the JEM Kibo's internal drone "Int-Ball"". JAXA. July 14, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
  2. ^ "JAXA tests grapefruit-sized video drone aboard ISS". The Japan Times. Jiji Press. July 15, 2017. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  3. ^ John, Tara (July 17, 2017). "An Adorable Floating Robot Is Helping Astronauts on the ISS". Time. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  4. ^ Martins, Carlos (July 7, 2017). "ISS já tem um robot voador a bordo" [ISS already has a flying robot on board]. Aberto até de Madrugada (in Portuguese). Retrieved July 19, 2017.