NASA and General Motors have joined forces to develop a new version of NASA’s humanoid robot astronaut. Robonaut-2 or R2, was first demonstrated to the public on 4th February 2010. The aim of the Robonaut project is to investigate technologies that can be used in space exploration to help and improve safety for astronauts. Robonaut-2 is a humanoid robot comprised of a torso, two dexterous manipulating arms and a head fitted with a vision system. Each arm is capable of lifting 20lb weights, which can moved away from the robot while maintaining balance. Robonaut2 surpasses previous dexterous humanoid robots in strength, yet it is safe enough to work side-by-side with humans. It is able to lift, not just hold, this 20-pound weight (about four times heavier than what other dexterous robots can handle) both near and away from its body.
The idea of using dexterous, human-like robots capable of using their hands to do intricate work is not new to the aerospace industry. The original Robonaut, a humanoid robot designed for space travel, was built by the software, robotics and simulation division at Johnson in a collaborative effort with the Defence Advanced Research Project Agency 10 years ago. During the past decade, NASA gained significant expertise in building robotic technologies for space applications. These capabilities will help NASA launch a bold new era of space exploration.
“Our challenge today is to build machines that can help humans work and explore in space,” said Mike Coats, Johnson’s center director. “Working side by side with humans, or going where the risks are too great for people, machines like Robonaut will expand our capability for construction and discovery.”(http://robonaut.jsc.nasa.gov).