Spaceheads

Robonaut 2

Yeah, I look badass.

Robonaut, R2A

In case you haven’t heard by now, this is a big week in space! In addition to the Glory mission (scrubbed, rescheduled for 24FEB11, 2:09am local Pacific time Thursday morning) being launched from Vandenburg AFB, tomorrow’s Discovery launch will have a very special guest on board.

Meet R2A, a highly dexterous anthropomorphic robot scheduled to punch a one-way ticket on STS-133 and become a permanent resident on-board the ISS (International Space Station).

Have you been working out?

Robonaut shows the guns

Like his earthbound twin R2B, R2A is a 300lb Humanoid Robot with a head, torso, two arms and two hands, one of four Robonauts Designed and built at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Thanks to its highly dexterous hands R2 can use the same tools as humans, act as an assistant, complete routine tasks or jobs that are too hazardous for its human counterparts.

Modular, arms, limbs, head can be replaced/upgraded for mobility around the station, future spacewalks once it develops beyond prototype status, and even exploring lunar or Martian surfaces. “A four wheeled rover base called Centaur 2 is being evaluated at the 2010 Desert Field Test in Arizona.”

Robonaut features significant advancements over its R1 predecessor, is 4 times faster, more compact, more dexterous, and includes a deeper and wider range of sensing. Newly incorporated technology includes “optimized overlapping dual arm dexterous workspace, series elastic joint technology, extended finger and thumb travel, miniaturized 6-axis load cells, redundant force sensing, ultra-high speed joint controllers, extreme neck travel, plus high resolution camera and IR systems” to see its environment.

Dude has a nice set of wheels!

R1 Robo-Rover

R2A will be controlled by Space Station laptops, with ground based controllers logged in and issuing commands. Whether or not he continues to follow them once free of his Earthly bounds remains to be seen.

I woke my wife up at 3am sneaking back into bed after reading about this, and told her all about my discovery. She replied “Oh no, they are going to destroy the world!” then rolled over and went back to sleep.

That left me alone in the dark to ponder what she meant.

I’m sure it was just sleep talking, and not a vision of the future… right?

To read more about R2 visit http://robonaut.jsc.nasa.gov, or you can follow him via Facebook and Twitter. Also check out NASA’s cool Flickr page.

  • Number_Six

    The centaur-looking thingy is downright scary. Can Mr R2A Sir (I'll just start grovelling now) attach himself to different means of propulsion?

  • tonyola

    "I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed."
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/25/Marvin-TV-3.jpg&quot; width=400>

    • BlackIce_GTS

      Now I lay me down to sleep
      Try to count electric sheep
      Sweet dream wishes, you can keep
      How I hate the night.

  • Deartháir

    So how long before there's a rocket-propelled maintenance version that communicates in beeps and whistles? I figure two more major versions and one revision. R2D2, at your service.

  • Couldn't they have made a less frightening helmet? I mean, this mother fucker is scary, and I am glad I read this this morning, and not last night before bed.

  • skitter

    I had the same dream. Big brother came and started planting chips into people's brains. No one knew if it was from this planet or another. We didn't know how to spot them. Sometimes they wore light blue hard hats, sometimes they made car lights turn on by walking past them. There was a lot of ambiguity and shotguns. Usually when we fought back, we were attacked from afar. We didn't know if there was any other outpost of humanity beyond our sad multicultural day flags. Then the army came around the corner and hope was restored.

    I don't like that moral of the story at all.

  • Alff

    Domo arigato.

  • Bad news… I have been informed that Super-Spouse's "Destroy the World" comment was in fact, a vision of the future.

    We are so screwed.

    • Alff

      You, doubly so, since it appears that Mrs. ZomBee is a precog. Does she nag you for things you haven't done, yet?

  • Soo, the first thing I thought of?

    Daft Punk… yep.

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