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Robonaut 2

Robonaut is a humanoid robotic development project run from the Dextrous Robotics Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. The core idea behind the Robonaut series of robots is to have a humanoid machine to work along-side astronauts. Its form factor and dexterity are designed such that Robonaut can use space tools and work in similar environments to suited astronauts. Robonaut is a different class of robot than other current space faring robots. While most current space robotic systems focus on moving large objects, similar to a crane, or rovers for exploration, Robonaut's focus is on tasks which require more dexterity.

The first series of Robonauts (R1A and R1B) had many partners including DARPA. The second Robonaut series (R2A and R2B) was a joint effort between NASA and General Motors. R2 is going to be delivered to the ISS to be tested "in-doors" on STS-133 (current stated launch date November 1).

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. Other designs for Robonaut propose uses for teleoperation on planetary surfaces. R1 had three lower bodies, a single arm, a base with two wheels (Segway HT) and a base with four wheels. Robonaut uses telepresence and various levels of robotic autonomy. While not all human range of motion and sensitivity has been duplicated, the robot's hand has fourteen degrees of freedom and uses touch sensors at the tips of its fingers. Robonaut B was introduced in 2002.

Robonaut 2

The next generation of Robonauts were born from a partnership between the automotive company General Motors, and NASA. This partnership began in 2007 using a Space Act agreement to ensure both NASA and GM were able to protect and share intellectual property rights. The public release of the partnership between NASA and GM occurred on Thursday, February 4th, 2010. The R2 system is capable of moving its arms up to 2 m/s and has a 40 lb payload capacity. Its hands have a grasping force of roughly 5 lbs per finger. All the numerous sensors in the robot number over 350.

Near the end of 2009/ early 2010 a proposed mission called Project M was announced by JSC that if approved would land a R2 robot on the moon within 1000 days.

NASA will launch the first human-like robot to space later this year to become a permanent resident of the International Space Station. Robonaut 2, or R2, was developed jointly by NASA and General Motors under a cooperative agreement to develop a robotic assistant that can work alongside humans, whether they be astronauts in space or workers at GM manufacturing plants on Earth.

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