Robonaut 2 Does Its Chores on ISS
Mar 23, 2012 (Voice of America News/ContentWorks via COMTEX) --
NASA says the future of space exploration includes humanoid robots working alongside flesh-and-blood humans. The U.S. space agency is a step closer to making that a reality with Robonaut 2, the first human-like robot on the International Space Station.
Robonaut 2's nickname is R2, and it has been on the ISS since last year undergoing system checks and testing.
This month, the Robonaut was finally put to work - as in, doing chores. NASA says R2 successfully used a gauge to take ventilation samples in the Destiny Lab on the space station.
Astronauts on the ISS regularly have to measure air flow in front of vents - and a human being's breath can alter the sample.
It's a perfect mundane chore for something that does not breathe.
Robonaut 2 was developed jointly by NASA and General Motors.
Its hands are human-like, so they can grip items as human hands do. That is important because the components that need to be serviced in space - and the tools to service them - were developed with human hands in mind.
While it has human-like hands, R2 has no legs. NASA says Robonaut legs are still in development, as the space agency explores the potentials of this prototype robotic astronaut.
There are four Robonauts in existence, but R2 is the only one in space.
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