Video via Nasa
February 24th, 2011 a dexterous humanoid robot, Robonaut 2, was launched into space to be the first of its kind in space and the first United States robot to make its way to the international space station. NASA and General Motors have been working together to create a more human like robot that can simulate and execute human motions and actions. Succeeding in creating such a robot will allow it to perform current human tasks, potentially the dangerous ones or repetitive tasks while also allowing it to use current tools and technologies used by humans.
Currently, tests are being performed on the robot in order to calibrate it before it is put to use in carrying out missions. Calibrating it involves comparing the motions of the hardware in the 1G environment on Earth, and taking it to the 0G space environment. The first tests on the robot included booting it up and making sure all the circuitry and software made it to the space station in working condition. Just recently, they began testing the movement of the joints and hands. Ultimately, the robot is controlled by a set of software parameters to keep it safe. However, its actions and movements can be controlled from a location on Earth or the space station itself.
Robonaut 2 was built and equipped with a wide range of advantages over the former Robonaut 1. It is capable of carrying out tasks four times faster than the original. Its systems include built in infrared sensors, a high resolution camera, and has an advanced sensing system. Additionally, its movement technologies include extensive neck travel, ultra-high speed joint controllers, enhanced finger and thumb movements, and series elastic joint technology.
Robonaut 2 has an identical twin on the ground that will be used to simulate missions and tasks. It will be placed in a replica environment with panels and systems that simulate that of the space station itself. After the simulation is complete, the program can be then sent to the orbiting Robonaut for execution. Future plans for the robot include creating legs for it to navigate around the space station or possibly wheels and a rover base so it can travel across terrain on a different planet.
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