NASAs New Generation of Robonauts: R2, Where Are You?

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NASAs New Generation of Robonauts: R2, Where Are You?

by Roy Mark

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Built to Work with Humans

R2's humanlike shape was a product of the fact that it was built to work side-by-side with people, assisting with work that is difficult or dangerous on Earth and in space.

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More Technologically Advanced than Its Predecessors

R2 is faster, more dexterous and more technologically advanced than its predecessors and able to use its hands to do work beyond the scope of previously introduced humanoid robots.

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Surpasses Previous Dexterous Humanoid Robots in Strength

Robonaut2 surpasses previous dexterous humanoid robots in strength, yet it is safe enough to work side-by-side with humans. It is able to lift, not just hold, this 20-pound weight (about four times heavier than what other dexterous robots can handle) both near and away from its body.

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R2 in the Lab

Chris Ihrke, senior project engineer for General Motors, works with the new dexterous humanoid robot developed by NASA and General Motors at Johnson Space Center.

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R2 Opens Door for New Versatility

"This cutting-edge robotics technology holds great promise, not only for NASA, but also for the nation," says Doug Cooke, associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "I'm very excited about the new opportunities for human and robotic exploration these versatile robots provide across a wide range of applications."

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Robonauts Hardly a New Concept

The idea of using dexterous, humanlike 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 Defense Advanced Research Project Agency 10 years ago.

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R2 Expands Capability for Construction and Discovery

"Our challenge today is to build machines that can help humans work and explore in space," said Mike Coats, Johnson's center director. "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."

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