NASA Robonaut 2 – “Giant Leap in Robotics”

NASA has come a long way in robotics. They are no building the next level of robots who can actually assist humans in the routine work, primarily in the space.

NASA with partnership from GM, has built R2 which is being called as a “giant leap in robotic technology”.

NASA says Robonaut 2 has been made humanoid in configuration so that it can do what humans can do,  use the same tools as humans, though hopefully it won’t drop them into planetary atmospheres as people occasionally do. And of course it won’t feed on the Oxygen cylinders that humans finish-up fast.

This Droid can easily handle 9Kgs (20lb) weights in Earth gravity, which is pretty good as compared with other dexterous robots.

Robonaut 2, or R2, is a faster, more dexterous and more technologically advanced robot. “Our challenge today is to build machines that can help humans work and explore in space,” said Mike Coats, NASA. “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.”

Robonaut 1 was built by NASA in cooperation with Pentagon wildscience division DARPA; the new R2 involved NASA, GM and Oceaneering Space systems.

According to NASA, Robonaut type machines could be especially useful in EVA, extra-vehicular activities, spacewalk. A lot of time and effort is spent kitting an astronaut or cosmonaut up for one of these excursions, which wouldn’t be required with the droid spacewalker. Already, a lot of the work outside the International Space Station and on Shuttle missions is done using the long robotic arms fitted to the spacecraft. For instance, in the case of the ISS, it had a 12-foot-tall “Dextre” robot multitip fitted to the end. Obviously, those things had their limitations which will now have been overcome by use of these Droids.

Watching this Robot in action is the Real thing, watch the video:

As for GM, the car firm hopes that R2’s successors may help get even more humans off its car assembly lines, so cutting down on accidents – and presumably on costs.

“For GM, this is about safer cars and safer plants,” said Alan Taub, GM R&D veep. “When it comes to future vehicles, the advancements in controls, sensors and vision technology can be used to develop advanced vehicle safety systems. The partnership’s vision is to explore advanced robots working together in harmony with people, building better, higher quality vehicles in a safer, more competitive manufacturing environment.”

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 DARPA 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.

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[Source: Robonaut NASA]

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