NASA to add legs to giant robonaut aboard the ISS

Nov 11, 2013 by Bob Yirka weblog

(Phys.org) —NASA has announced its intention to add legs to the Robonaut 2 (R2) robot currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS), sometime next year. The move is part of a 50 year project (currently in year 17) by NASA to investigate the possibilities of using robots on space missions. Adding legs to R2 will increase its standing height to eight feet and its weight to 500 pounds.

R2 was first delivered to the ISS in 2011 as just a head, torso and arms by the Space Shuttle Discovery and is the first dexterous in space (Japan's talking Kirobo robot has arms and legs but they offer virtually no functionality.) Designed at NASA's Johnson Space center in Houston Texas, R2's purpose is to perform many of the activities that are now carried out by human astronauts.

R2 is actually one of four robonauts that NASA has built, each with a different mission in mind. Future parts for R2 include interchangeable wheels for rolling around on the surface of a planet or moon (one configuration involves having R2 roll around on four wheels instead of just two for added stability). NASA also plans to create a line of hands that allow the robot to perform a variety of tasks, one of which would almost certainly be taking part in missions that involve conducting space walks to perform duties or to make repairs to the ISS.

In adding to R2, NASA plans to eventually have the robot move autonomously around the ISS—them being long will help with movingly quickly in and out of hatches. But that's part of a long learning process. R2 will have to start out by taking baby steps as the cramped quarters of the ISS leaves little room for clumsiness—one bump could send a human astronaut careening helplessly through a compartment likely crashing into a wall, or sensitive equipment. The ultimate goal is have R2 move as gracefully as an antelope both inside the ISS and out while performing tasks that are either mundane or dangerous. Having the robot perform spacewalks, for example, would also save on costs as it wouldn't require life-support and other back-up systems necessary to keep humans safe when venturing out.


Explore further: Japan's robot astronaut awaiting 'compatriot' spaceman

More information: via ABC

Related Stories

February launch scheduled for Robonaut 2

Feb 01, 2011

NASA's Robonaut 2 is primed and ready for launch aboard space shuttle Discovery in February. R2 is so ready, in fact, that it's going up ahead of its legs, which will follow on a later launch.

NASA's humanoid robot unveiled on space station

Mar 16, 2011

The first humanoid robot ever launched into space is finally free. Astronauts at the International Space Station unpacked Robonaut on Tuesday, 2 1/2 weeks after its arrival via shuttle Discovery. NASA broadcast ...

Recommended for you

Exploring Mars in low Earth orbit

13 hours ago

In their quest to understand life's potential beyond Earth, astrobiologists study how organisms might survive in numerous environments, from the surface of Mars to the ice-covered oceans of Jupiter's moon, ...

Lifetime of gravity measurements heralds new beginning

15 hours ago

Although ESA's GOCE satellite is no more, all of the measurements it gathered during its life skirting the fringes our atmosphere, including the very last as it drifted slowly back to Earth, have been drawn ...

NASA's IceCube no longer on ice

19 hours ago

NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) has chosen a team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to build its first Earth science-related CubeSat mission.

User comments : 0