Robonaut (Robonaut) - 04.20.16
Robonaut is a humanoid robot designed with the versatility and dexterity to manipulate hardware, work in high risk environments, and respond safely to unexpected obstacles. Robonaut is comprised of a torso with two arms and a head, and two legs with end effectors that enable the robot to translate inside the ISS by interfacing with handrails and seat track. Robonaut is currently operated inside the International Space Station (ISS); in the future, it will perform tasks both inside and outside the ISS. The Robonaut Teleoperations System enables Robonaut to mimic the motions of a crewmember wearing specialized gloves, a vest and a visor providing a three-dimensional view through Robonaut’s eyes. Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending Experiment Details
Myron A. Diftler, Ph.D., Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
NASA Johnson Space Center, Robotics Systems Technology Branch, Houston, TX, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Technology Demonstration Office (TDO)
Space Exploration, Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery
ISS Expedition Duration 1
March 2011 - March 2016; March 2016 - March 2017
Previous ISS Missions
Robonaut begins operations on ISS Expedition 25/26.
- The Robonaut operational goals demonstrate the capabilities of humanoid robotic technology on the International Space Station (ISS). Current research involves activities inside the ISS, but future project goals are to demonstrate humanoid robotic capabilities outside the ISS in the Extravehicular Environment.
- The research being performed could help save crew time by offloading time consuming tasks both inside and outside the space station. Robonaut could also help reduce human crew member exposure to dangerous environments by providing a robotic option for investigation or action.
- Robonaut technology could evolve into other future robotic missions and other space exploration platforms.
ISS Science Challenge Student Reflection
ISS Science Challenge Selected Project Script
We did this experiment because we were learning about technology. We liked learning about Robonaut because robots are really cool.
-Cael, Zach, Chase, and Kameron, Grade 5, North Tama Elementary School, Traer, Iowa
Robonaut’s torso not only looks like a human, but it also is designed to work like one. With human-like hands and arms, Robonaut is able to use the same tools station crewmembers use. In the future, the greatest benefits of humanoid robots in space may be as assistants for astronauts during spacewalks.
Robonaut is comprised of a robotic torso with a rotating waist, arms, a head with two high image cameras for eyes and a power pack (backpack). Below the waist, Robonaut has two legs that enable climbing and translation activities. The feet, or end effectors, on Robonaut contain cameras, sensors, and lights to aid in the robot’s autonomous mobility.
Robonaut activities include commanding to perform free space joint manipulation and interface with the Task Board where it performs simple functions such as flipping switches, removing dust covers and installing handrails. The Robonaut Task Board has dummy (non-ISS interfaced) switches that Robonaut can interact with via ground or local ISS commanding. Operations also include simple ISS Intravehicular Activity (IVA) tasks within a contained worksite area. During these initial operations, Robonaut is involved with education and public outreach activities demonstrations.
As each session is successfully completed and operational confidence concerning Robonaut’s capabilities in microgravity are proven, Robonaut will be scheduled for more complex activities. Robonaut’s growth may be supported with hardware and/or software upgrades in future increments, including the addition of a battery backpack. The battery backpack will provide wireless power and data capabilities, extending Robonaut’s operational margins.
The hardware required to perform tele-operation of the robot is the Robonaut Tele-operation System (RTS). The RTS consists of hardware the operator will don which includes a 3D visor, vest and gloves. The hardware items worn by the operator contain specialized sensors capable of detecting the motion of the operator by mounting a tracking bar. These sensors transmit the operator movements to a computer that works through the existing Robonaut control software to drive the robot in a fashion that mimics the motion of the operator. Feedback from the robot is in the form of left/right video cameras from Robonaut that feed direct video to a video display helmet that is worn by the operator.^ back to top
Robonaut not only looks like a human, but is designed to work like one, with human-like hands and arms that can operate the same tools crew members use. For initial demonstrations, Robonaut flips switches, removes dust covers, installs handrails and performs other duties using the Robonaut Task Board inside the ISS. Additional tasks are assigned to Robonaut as each session is successfully completed. With further development and enhancements, humanoid robots will be able to work alongside humans on spacewalks.
Robonaut is a project founded under a Space Act agreement with General Motors, which plans to use Robonaut-related technology in future vehicle safety systems and manufacturing applications. Robonaut helps to advance development of robotic assistant and manufacturing technologies that improve worker health and safety inside factories. As part of the demonstration, Robonaut is also involved in several education and public outreach activities, connecting robotics and the space program to students and the general public on Earth.
Robonaut is commanded via remote guidance control, and success in each research operation is determined by the ground operators based on observations of the Robonaut performance recorded via cabin video and by Robonaut telemetry received on the ground. Each session detailed below can be repeated multiple times to obtain the greatest insight to Robonaut operations in the 0 g (zero gravity) environment and remote guidance.
Robonaut Phase I Operations (Stationary Ops)
- Sensor and safety system checkout (Completed)
- Freespace joint checkout (Completed)
VelociCalc Tool Ops (Completed)
- NOTE: Future VelociCalc Tool ops are on the tentative future schedule
- Taskboard Vision Characterization (In-Work)
- Taskboard Operations (Completed)
- Taskboard Handrail Cleaning (Completed and Ongoing)
- Tele-Operation Freespace Ops (Completed)
- Tele-Operation Contact Ops (Completed)
Robonaut Phase II Operations (IVA Mobility)
- On-Orbit Assembly of IVA Mobility Unit (Completed)
- Sensor and safety system checkout
- Freespace joint checkout
- IVA climbing/steps
- Auto stow/unstow
Maintenance and Housekeeping Ops
- Barcode Scanning
- Handrail Cleaning
- Inventory Management
- Atmospheric and Environmental Monitoring/Reporting Ops
- EVA Tool Ops in the IVA environment
- On-orbit Integration of Battery Backpack
- Sensor and safety systems checkout
- Freespace joint checkout
- IVA Mobility demonstration with battery
Robonaut Phase III Operations (EVA Mobility)
- On-Orbit Assembly of EVA Mobility Unit
- Sensor and safety system checkout IVA
- Freespace joint checkout IVA
- JEM Airlock EVA Access Ops
- Sensor and safety system checkout EVA
- Freespace joint checkout EVA
- Handrail inspection Ops
- MLI/Softgoods manipulation Ops
Worksite prep/tear down
- APFR setup
- Retrieve/Configure/Stow EVA Tools
- Replace/Remove MLI
- Retrieve, translate and pre-position ORUs
- EVA Contingency Ops Support
Robonaut is confined to operations in the ISS's Destiny Laboratory. However, future enhancements and modifications may allow it to move more freely throughout the station's interior and eventually the exterior as well.
Robonaut operates via ground commanding with little interaction by the crew members. The exception to this is during Robonaut Tele-Operation (RTS) sessions. For RTS sessions, crew members don a 3D visor, gloves and a vest and Robonaut will mimic their motion.
Decadal Survey Recommendations
Information Pending^ back to top
Information Pending^ back to top
Diftler MA, Ahlstrom TD, Ambrose RO, Radford NA, Joyce CA, De La Pena N, Noblitt AL. Robonaut 2 - Initial Activities On-Board the ISS. 2012 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT; 2012 pp.1-12.
Ground Based Results Publications
Ihrke CA, Linn DM, Bridgwater LB. Bidirectional tendon terminator. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,276,958. October 2 2012.
Ihrke CA, Mehling JS, Parsons AH, Griffith BK, Radford NA, Permenter FN, Davis DR, Ambrose RO, Junkin LQ. Rotary series elastic actuator. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,443,693. May 21 2013.
Ihrke CA, Bridgwater LB, Diftler MA, Reich DM, Askew SR. Actuator and electronics packaging for extrinsic humanoid hand . United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,401,700. March 19 2013.
Ihrke CA, Bridgwater LB, Platt RJ. Tendon tension sensor. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,371,177. February 12 2013.
Abdallah ME, Platt RJ, Wampler CW. Tension distribution in a tendon-driven robotic finger. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,412,376. April 2 2013.
Davis DR, Permenter FN, Radford NA. System and method for calibrating a rotary absolute position sensor . United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,250,901. August 28 2012.
Linn DM, Ihrke CA, Ambrose RO, Mehling JS, Diftler MA, Parsons AH, Radford NA, Bridgwater LB, Bibby H. Robot. United States Patent and Trademark Office.D628,609. December 7 2010.
Linn DM, Ambrose RO, Diftler MA, Askew SR, Platt RJ, Mehling JS, Radford NA, Strawser D, Bridgwater LB, Wampler CW, Abdallah ME, Ihrke CA, Reiland M, Sanders AM, Reich DM, Hargrave B, Parsons AH, Permenter FN, Davis DR. Humanoid robot. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,511,964. August 20 2013.
Abdallah ME, Hargrave B, Platt RJ. Applying workspace limitations in a velocity-controlled robotic mechanism . United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,676,382. March 18 2014.
Abdallah ME, Platt RJ, Reiland M, Hargrave B, Diftler MA, Strawser D, Ihrke CA. Robust operation of tendon-driven robot fingers using force and position-based control laws. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,489,239. July 16 2013.
Reiland M, Diftler MA. System and method for tensioning a robotically actuated tendon. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,618,762. December 31 2013.
Davis DR, Radford NA, Askew SR. Connector pin and method . United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,033,876. October 11 2011.
Platt RJ, Permenter FN, Corcoran CM, Wampler CW. Contact state estimation for multi-finger robot hands using particle filters . United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,280,837. October 2 2012.
Ihrke CA, Mehling JS, Parsons AH, Griffith BK, Radford NA, Permenter FN, Davis DR, Ambrose RO, Junkin LQ. Rotary series elastic actuator . United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,291,788. October 23 2012.
Reiland M, Hargrave B, Platt RJ, Abdallah ME, Permenter FN. Architecture for robust force and impedance control of series elastic actuators. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,525,460. September 3 2013.
Abdallah ME, Reiland M, Platt RJ, Wampler CW, Hargrave B. Multiple priority operational space impedance control. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,170,718. May 1 2012.
Wampler CW, Platt RJ. Method and apparatus for calibrating multi-axis load cells in a dexterous robot. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,265,792. September 11 2012.
Wells JW, McKay DN, Chelian SE, Linn DM, Wampler CW, Bridgwater LB. Visual perception system and method for a humanoid robot . United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,244,402. August 14 2012.
Ihrke CA, Mehling JS, Parsons AH, Griffith BK, Radford NA, Permenter FN, Davis DR, Ambrose RO, Junkin LQ. Rotary series elastic actuator. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,443,694. May 21 2013.
Abdallah ME, Ihrke CA, Reiland M, Wampler CW, Diftler MA, Platt RJ, Bridgwater LB. Torque control of underactuated tendon-driven robotic fingers . United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,565,918. October 22 2013.
Barajas LG, Sanders AM, Reiland M, Strawser D. Embedded diagnostic, prognostic, and health management system and method for a humanoid robot . United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,369,992. February 5 2013.
Abdallah ME, Hargrave B, Yamokoski JD, Strawser D. Workspace safe operation of a force- or impedance-controlled robot. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,483,877. July 9 2013.
Ihrke CA, Bridgwater LB, Reich DM, Wampler CW, Askew SR, Diftler MA, Nguyen V. Dexterous humanoid robotic wrist . United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,498,741. July 30 2013.
Sanders AM, Reiland M, Abdallah ME, Linn DM, Platt RJ. Interactive robot control system and method of use . United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,260,460. September 4 2012.
Abdallah ME, Bridgwater LB, Diftler MA, Linn DM, Wampler CW, Platt RJ. Sensing the tendon tension through the conduit reaction forces. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,056,423. November 15 2011.
Ihrke CA, Parsons AH, Mehling JS, Griffith BK. Planar torsion spring. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,176,809. May 15 2012.
Linn DM, Ihrke CA, Diftler MA. Human grasp assist device and method of use. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,255,079. August 28 2012.
Ihrke CA, Bridgwater LB, Diftler MA, Linn DM, Platt RJ, Hargrave B, Askew SR, Valvo MC. Robotic finger assembly. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,562,049. October 22 2013.
Reiland M, Platt RJ, Wampler CW, Abdallah ME, Hargrave B. Joint-space impedance control for tendon-driven manipulators. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,060,250. November 15 2011.
Abdallah ME, Platt RJ, Wampler CW, Reiland M, Sanders AM. Method and apparatus for automatic control of a humanoid robot . United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,364,314. January 29 2013.
Davis DR, Radford NA, Permenter FN, Valvo MC, Askew SR. Integrated high-speed torque control system for a robotic joint . United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,442,684. May 14 2013.
Abdallah ME, Platt RJ. In-vivo tension calibration in tendon-driven manipulators. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,412,378. April 2 2013.
Sanders AM, Platt RJ, Quillin N, Permenter FN, Pfeiffer J. Method and system for controlling a dexterous robot execution sequence using state classification. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,706,299. April 22 2014.
Abdallah ME, Platt RJ, Wampler CW. Hierarchical robot control system and method for controlling select degrees of freedom of an object using multiple manipulators. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,483,882. July 9 2013.
Ihrke CA, Bridgwater LB, Platt RJ, Wampler CW, Goza MS. Robotic thumb assembly. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,424,941. April 23 2013.
Davis DR, Radford NA, Permenter FN, Parsons AH, Mehling JS. Method and apparatus for electromagnetically braking a motor. United States Patent and Trademark Office.8,067,909. November 29 2011.
Tzvetkova GV. ROBONAUT 2: Mission, technologies, perspectives. Journal of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics. 2014 January 1; 44(1): 97-102. DOI: 10.2478/jtam-2014-0006.
Walker W, Yayathi S, Shaw J, Ardebili H. Thermo-electrochemical evaluation of lithium-ion batteries for space applications. Journal of Power Sources. 2015 December; 298: 217-227. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2015.08.054.
Diftler MA, Mehling JS, Abdallah ME, Radford NA, Bridgwater LB, Sanders AM, Askew SR, Linn DM, Yamokoski JD, Permenter FN, Hargrave B, Platt RJ, Savely RT, Ambrose RO. Robonaut 2 - The first humanoid robot in space. 2011 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Shanghai, China; 2011 May 2178-2183.
Planetary Gear - Robonaut 2: The offspring of GM and NASA
NASA to Launch Human-Like Robot to Join Space Station Crew
NASA Developing Robots with Human Traits
A Step Up for NASA’s Robonaut: Ready for Climbing Legs
Climbing Legs for Robonaut 2 Headed to International Space Station
NASA Image: ISS040e139221 - Robonaut after installation of the Robonaut legs on ISS. Robonaut is a dexterous humanoid robot designed with the versatility and dexterity to manipulate hardware, exhibit greater endurance than humans, and react safely when bumped or interacted with in a way that was not expected.
+ View Larger Image
NASA Image: ISS040E139237 - NASA astronaut Steve Swanson taken with Robonaut after installation of the Robonaut legs.
+ View Larger Image
NASA Image: ISS036E038288 - NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy wears tele-operation gear consisting of a vest, gloves and visor to telerobotically test Robonaut's maneuvers.
+ View Larger Image
NASA Image: ISS039E003125 - Japan Aerospace Exploration agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata poses for a photo with Robonaut.
+ View Larger Image
NASA Image: ISS026E034308 - European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli, Expedition 26/27 flight engineer, poses with Robonaut 2, the dexterous humanoid astronaut helper, in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station.
+ View Larger Image
NASA Image: JSC2009-E-155300 - Robonaut is the next generation dexterous robot, developed through a Space Act Agreement by NASA and General Motors. It 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.
+ View Larger Image