In the movies, droids act just like robotic Swiss Army knives, nearly always equipped with the right tools for any situation. Although NASA would be hard-pressed to mimic this aspect of astromechs, Verdeyen does note that in tests, NASA’s droids have used drills, surgical equipment and other tools.
“If we make a robot that looks and manipulate tools like a human, it can use tools that already exist for astronauts,” Verdeyen said.
Of the most interest to NASA are “astromechs” such as R2-D2 and BB-8, which can keep a spaceship running even as it is being blown apart. “It’d be really nice to imagine a robot crawling on the outside of a space station to repair it,” Verdeyen said.
The possibilities for on the fly robot repairs that do not impact on space missions are endless, from plugging cracks to repairing damage from Tie Fighter blasts!