By Larry Dignan
Posting in Government
NASA and General Motors are collaborating on next generation robot technology. This robot, dubbed Robonaut 2 or R2 for short, could be your co-worker someday.
R2 is a humanoid robot capable of working alongside humans.
For GM, R2 would be used to test car safety and develop safer manufacturing plants. GM hopes to integrate robots with human workers. NASA would use R2 as a helper---or stand-in---for humans on space missions.
A video of what R2 can do shows the robot writing in cursive and lifting a 20lb weight. The robot uses bleeding edge control, sensor and vision technologies.
As for the background of R2, NASA has some experience with robot technology. The original Robonaut was developed in collaboration between the Johnson Space Center and the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency 10 years ago.
Feb 3, 2010
Nice work, Much media attention focuses on Japanese robotics; nothing wrong with Japanese achievements nevertheless, I would like see what the US, Russia, China, France, Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, etc... are doing. Why humanoids with limited range of motion, strenght, and abilities? Because humanoids are designed to function in the human environment with human equipment and humans may have to use the same equipment or complete a given task within human range of performance. NM
The shape is explained in a previous story: For GM, R2 would be used to test car safety and develop safer manufacturing plants
Don't get me wrong, I think the human form is a fantastic, complex creation. And, I think that the NASA and GM relationship is beneficial to both organizations. However, I am not sure that it optimizes efficiency for a "robonaut." Why would we want "robonauts" to have a humanoid form? Surely we would not want to limit an arm to rotating only 180 degrees. Is this being done for GM to see human safety improvements? Is this being done to make images of NASA missions more palpable to the mass public?