The Robonaut 2 created by NASA and General motors has just been cleared for takeoff. This humanoid robot has been in development for many years and is now in its second form. The larger more capable R2 weighs in at 300 pounds, with a head, torso and two fully functional arms.
R2 will make its home permanently on the International Space Station this September after its flight there on the Space Shuttle Discovery, part of the STS-133 mission. NASA says that the R2 will assist astronauts with regular tasks such as handing them tools, holding wires, etc. within the space station and on space walks. The chief advantage of a machine such as R2 is its ability to use the same tools as astronauts.
Although robots have been used in space this will be the first humanoid robot to be implemented. The robot is currently undergoing extreme testing to be ready for its debut. The rigorous regime includes vibration, vacuum and radiation testing along with additional safety procedures.
The director of NASA’s Exploration Systems Integration Office, John Olson, said: “The partnership of humans and robots will be critical to opening up the solar system and will allow us to go farther and achieve more than we can probably even imagine today.”
The dexterous humanoid robot not only looks like a human, it is designed to work like one. With human-like hands and arms, R2 is able to use the same tools that station crew members use. In the future, the greatest benefit of humanoid robots in space may be as an assistant or stand-in for astronauts during spacewalks or for tasks too difficult or dangerous for humans.