In near future, astronauts are about to get a lot of help from their new friend, R2, which came to live on Monday, August 22, 2011. For now, the Robonaut only has his top body. The legs are being designed and are expected to be delivered aboard the ISS next year. So what do we know and can expect of this marvelous invention? The core idea behind the Robonaut series is to have a humanoid machine work alongside astronauts. Its form factor and dexterity are designed such that Robonaut can use space tools and work in similar environments suited to astronauts. Robonaut is a humanoid robotic development project conducted by the Dextrous Robotics Laboratory atNASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. Robonaut differs from other current space-faring robots in that, while most current space robotic systems (such as robotic arms, cranes and exploration rovers) are designed to move large objects, Robonaut’s tasks require more dexterity. Work on the first Robonaut began in 1997. The idea was to build a humanoid robot that could assist astronauts on tasks in which another pair of hands would be helpful or to venture forth to perform jobs either too dangerous for crew members to risk or too mundane for them to spend time on. This system wouldn’t need specialized tools and would be able to use the same ones the as the astronauts. The initial design of Robonaut was for it to be used as an end-effector for the robotic arm on the International Space Station, where it could serve as an alternative to human extravehicular activity for external maintenance on the station. Robonaut 1 (R1) was the first model. The two Robonaut versions (R1A and R1B) had many partners including DARPA. None were flown to space. Other designs for Robonaut propose uses for teleoperation on planetary surfaces, where Robonaut could explore a planetary surface while receiving instructions from orbiting astronauts above. Robonaut B was introduced in 2002, R1B is a portable version of R1. R1 had several lower bodies. Robonaut 2 was launched on STS-133 on February 24, 2011, and delivered to the ISS. The conditions aboard the space station provide a proving ground for robots to work shoulder to shoulder with people in microgravity. Once this has been demonstrated inside the station, software upgrades and lower bodies may be added, allowing R2 to move around the interior of the station and perform maintenance tasks, such as vacuuming or cleaning filters. Further upgrades could be added to allow R2 to work outside in the vacuum of space, where R2 could help space walkers perform repairs, make additions to the station or conduct scientific experiments. There are no plans to return the launched R2 back to earth. NASA’s experience with R2 on the station will help them understand its capabilities for possible deep space missions.
In near future, astronauts are about to get a lot of help from their new friend, R2, which came to live on Monday, August 22, 2011. For now, the Robonaut only has his top body. The legs are being designed and are expected to be delivered aboard the ISS next year. So what do we […]