Robotic assistants in the space
NASA will launch the first human-like robot to space in order to become a permanent resident of the International Space Station. Robonaut 2, or R2, is a robotic assistant that can work side by side with humans.
R2 was developed by NASA and General Motors under a cooperative agreement. The R2 consists of a head and a torso with two arms and two hands. R2 will be lauched on space shuttle Discovery as part of the STS-133 mission planned for September. Throughout its first decade in orbit, the space station has served as a test bed for human and robotic teamwork for construction, maintenance and science.
R2 will be confined to operations in the station’s Destiny laboratory. However, future enhancements and modifications may allow it to move more freely around the station’s interior or outside the complex.
“This project exemplifies the promise that a future generation of robots can have both in space and on Earth, not as replacements for humans but as companions that can carry out key supporting roles,” said John Olson, director of NASA’s Exploration Systems Integration Office at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The combined potential of humans and robots is a perfect example of the sum equaling more than the parts. It will allow us to go farther and achieve more than we can probably even imagine today.”
The robot not only looks like a human but also is designed to work like one. With human-like hands and arms, R2 is able to use the same tools station crew members use. In the future, the greatest benefits of humanoid robots in space may be as assistants or stand-in for astronauts during spacewalks or for tasks too difficult or dangerous for humans.
Further detail is found through the following NASA link. including a video showing the performance of R2.