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ISS Update: Robonaut 2 -- 01.03.13
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ISS Update: Interviews (Dec. 31, 2012 - Jan. 4, 2013)
ISS Update commentator Pat Ryan sits down with Dr. Ron Diftler, Robonaut 2 project lead, to discuss the tests going on aboard the International Space Station with Robonaut 2 and the future plans for the first dexterous humanoid robot in space.
Designed and built through a partnership between NASA and General Motors, Robonaut was conceived to take on tasks deemed too dangerous or mundane for astronauts, perhaps even venturing outside the complex someday to assist spacewalkers. Robonaut’s form and dexterity allow it to use the same tools as its human counterparts aboard the station and eliminates the need for specialized tools just for robots.
Recently, Robonaut worked with its first tool aboard space station – a handheld air flow meter. Normally, astronauts collect air flow data by holding a wand and a meter in front of an air vent and relay that data to personnel on the ground by reporting the averages seen on the meter. “Actually, a perfect job for a robot,” as Diftler points out, because “nothing can hold something still better than a robot.” As Robonaut performed this task, personnel on the ground were able to use Robonaut’s eyes to see the meter and acquire real-time data for the first time.
The Robonaut team is now looking toward the future, with plans to eventually add climbing legs to the robot to provide it with the mobility needed to assist the crew both inside and outside the station.
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