Houston, Robonaut 2 Is Ready To Serve.
On February 24th, 2011, the Space Shuttle, Discovery launched at 4:50PM EST. It was (and still is) the last mission for Discovery and the third-to-last mission for the entire space shuttle program. Unique about this mission, is that it is the first to carry a humanoid robot into space, the Robonaut 2. The Robonaut 2’s (R2) technologies “have real-world applications for sensor development, such as possible enhancements to lane departure warning, side blind zone alert, adaptive cruise control and rear park assist.”
According to NASA, “A Robonaut is a dextrous humanoid robot built and designed at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.” NASA plans to use Robonauts to work with humans or go where no man has gone before (due to health risks, of course!) Robonauts were built to expand our ability for construction and discovery, something NASA calls dextrous manipulation, described as an ability to use one’s hand to do work, and to have a machine whose “dexterity exceeds that of a suited astronaut.”
GM’s press release further indicates that they have been working tediously along with NASA engineers since 2007. R2’s development has triggered 34 robotics patents to date. According to Engadget, R2 was successfully deployed in the International Space Station, breaking ground to join the first robot-human space crew. The 300 pound giant was happily released from its crate and is ready to help the NASA crew.
Check out the videos below to see the R2 being packed, launched (photos), and unpacked for space.