jueves, 9 de septiembre de 2010


What is a Robonaut?

A Robonaut is a dexterous humanoid robot built and designed at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Our challenge is to build machines that can help humans work and explore in space. Working side by side with humans, or going where the risks are too great for people, Robonauts will expand our ability for construction and discovery. Central to that effort is a capability we call dexterous manipulation, embodied by an ability to use one's hand to do work, and our challenge has been to build machines with dexterity that exceeds that of a suited astronaut.

There are currently four Robonauts, with others currently in development. This allows us to study various types of mobility, control methods, and task applications. The value of a humanoid over other designs is the ability to use the same workspace and tools - not only does this improve efficiency in the types of tools, but also removes the need for specialized robotic connectors. Robonauts are essential to NASA's future as we go beyond low earth orbit and continue to explore the vast wonder that is space.

Robonaut 2 or R2, will launch to the International Space Station on space shuttle Discovery as part of the STS-133 mission, it will become the first dexterous humanoid robot in space, and the first US-built robot at the space station. But that will be just one small step for a robot and one giant leap for robot-kind.

Initially R2 will be deployed on a fixed pedestal inside the ISS. Next steps include a leg for climbing through the corridors of the Space Station, upgrades for R2 to go outside into the vacuum of space, and then future lower bodies like legs and wheels to propel the R2 across Lunar and Martian terrain. A four wheeled rover called Centaur 2 is being evaluated at the 2010 Desert Field Test in Arizona as an example of these future lower bodies for R2.


The idea of using dexterous, human-like robots capable of using their hands to do intricate work is not new to the aerospace industry. The original Robonaut, a humanoid robot designed for space travel, was built by the software, robotics and simulation division at Johnson in a collaborative effort with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency 10 years ago. During the past decade, NASA gained significant expertise in building robotic technologies for space applications. These capabilities will help NASA launch a bold new era of space exploration.
The first generation Robonaut was designed by the Robot Systems Technology Branch at NASA's Johnson Space Center in a collaborative effort with DARPA. The Robonaut project seeks to develop and demonstrate a robotic system that can function as an EVA astronaut equivalent. Robonaut jumps generations ahead by eliminating the robotic scars (e.g., special robotic grapples and targets) and specialized robotic tools of traditional on-orbit robotics. However, it still keeps the human operator in the control loop through its telepresence control system. Robonaut is designed to be used for "EVA" tasks, i.e., those which were not specifically designed for robots.

Robonaut 2

In the current iteration of Robonaut, Robonaut 2 or R2, NASA and General Motors are working together to accelerate development of the next generation of robots and related technologies for use in the automotive and aerospace industries.
R2 20 pound weight, Robonaut
Robonaut 2 (R2) is a state of the art highly dexterous anthropomorphic robot. Like its predecessor Robonaut 1 (R1), R2 is capable of handling a wide range of EVA tools and interfaces, but R2 is a significant advancement over its predecessor. R2 is capable of speeds more than four times faster than R1, is more compact, is more dexterous, and includes a deeper and wider range of sensing. Advanced technology spans the entire R2 system and includes: optimized overlapping dual arm dexterous workspace, series elastic joint technology, extended finger and thumb travel, miniaturized 6-axis load cells, redundant force sensing, ultra-high speed joint controllers, extreme neck travel, and high resolution camera and IR systems. The dexterity of R2 allows it to use the same tools that astronauts currently use and removes the need for specialized tools just for robots. One advantage of a humanoid design is that Robonaut can take over simple, repetitive, or especially dangerous tasks on places such as the International Space Station. Because R2 is approaching human dexterity, tasks such as changing out an air filter can be performed without modifications to the existing design.
Another way this might be beneficial is during a robotic precursor mission. R2 would bring one set of tools for the precursor mission, such as setup and geologic investigation. Not only does this improve efficiency in the types of tools, but also removes the need for specialized robotic connectors. Future missions could then supply a new set of tools and use the existing tools already on location.

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