A photo published on social media reveals Elon Musk’s SpaceX Corporation is close to fielding a rocket robot.
According to Florida Today newspaper, Stephen Marr got a good view of the bot sitting on top of a SpaceX drone ship at Port Canaveral, Florida.
"I knew there was something different there," Marr, 34, told the paper.
Marr posted the photo on Reddit where it was widely agreed to be a robot, and users on the site nicknamed it “Optimus Prime,” after a character from the movie Transformers.
The robot is expected to work on the drone ships, securing the first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets, which will land on the drone ships, Florida Today reports. The robot is expected to save the company money and increase safety.
Ricky Lim, of SpaceX, told Florida Today that the robot is in a “testing phase” as a “future capability.”
“I don’t think it’s very far away” from being used, Lim told the paper. “But it’s new.”
He added that the robot has not been officially named.
SpaceX has recovered eight first stages of Falcon 9 rockets, starting in 2015. Three of those stages landed on pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and five times on drone ships at sea.
SpaceX is expecting to launch another rocket from Kennedy Space Center in coming months. That mission is expected to be the first use of a used or “flight tested” Falcon 9 rocket.