Feeds

NASA develops spaceship work robot called 'R2'

Definitely the droid we're looking for, say space chiefs

Top three mobile application threats

NASA, in partnership with motor globo-mammoth GM, says it has taken a "giant leap in robotic technology", having developed a robot intended to operate alongside humans in space and called - really - R2.

Robonaut 2 with stuff. Credit: NASA

Ha - your obscure widget is no match for my krenon-ray pistol.

As you can see, though, the machine - full name Robonaut 2 - is really more of a C-3PO than an R2-D2, around the torso at least. NASA says it has been made roughly humanoid in configuration so that it can use the same tools as humans, though hopefully it won't drop them into planetary atmospheres as people occasionally do. The work-droid can easily handle 20lb weights in Earth gravity, which is said to be well in excess of what other "dexterous" robots can manage.

"Our challenge today is to build machines that can help humans work and explore in space," said Mike Coats, NASA bigwig. "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 - space suit maker to the US astronaut programme.

According to NASA, Robonaut type machines could be especially useful in extra-vehicular activities (EVAs, spacewalks). 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, in the case of the ISS with a 12-foot-tall "Dextre" robot multitip fitted to the end.

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."

There's more on Robonaut here. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.