Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
by Staff Writers
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Apr 23, 2014
Robonaut R2, the first robotic humanoid working on the International Space Station, has finally received its legs. The 'present' to R2, delivered by a SpaceX rocket, marks one more milestone in space humanoid robotics.
Robonaut, currently only a torso, head and arms, is attached to a support post and has been operating on the ISS for three years.
The new legs, delivered to R2 on Easter Sunday morning, were funded by NASA's Human Exploration and Operations and Space Technology mission directorates. They will make R2 mobile and give it the means to help the ISS crew with regular and repetitive tasks, inside and outside the station, such as cleaning chores and fetching things.
Each leg is 1.2 meters long and will enable Robonaut to climb and move around the 420-km-high outpost.
"Legs are going to really kind of open up the robot's horizons," said Robert Ambrose from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
With new legs, R2 will be at least 2.5 meters tall. Their design was based on the tether attachments used by spacewalking astronauts.
According to Ambrose, the legs look "a little creepy" when they move because of the number of joints - seven - and a device on the robot's 'feet' called an end effector, which allows the robot to take advantage of handrails and sockets inside and outside the station. Each effector has a light, camera and sensor for building 3D maps.
"Imagine monkey feet with eyes in the palm of each foot," said Robert Ambrose from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, "I hope my knee never bends that many degrees, but Robonaut has no problems at all."
According to Ambrose, Robonaut has already shown that it can measure the flow on air filters, which is "a really crummy job for humans," he added.
Overall $17 million was spent on the Robonaut project. The cost of the legs is at least $14 million ($6 million to develop and $8 million to build and certify the Robonaut). Meanwhile, the torso of the robot along with head and arms cost about $2.5 million, which doesn't include Robonaut's development and testing expenses.
However, R2 will be limited in its mobility until it gets a battery backpack which is due to arrive later this year. Until then, the robot will need a power extension cord to stretch its legs and will be restricted to the testing area on the US side of the ISS.
The 136-kg R2, built and designed at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, was taken to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2011. It has about 350 sensors and 38 PowerPC processors.
Meanwhile, the question remains whether R2 is now able to perform various spacewalk repairs. According to NASA's space station program manager, Mike Suffredini, there's still "quite a ways to go" before future Robonauts perform spacewalk repairs, because giving such a job to robotic humanoids is a big challenge.
"They won't ever replace the crews, but they could do a lot of the jobs," Suffredini added.
Station at NASA
All about the robots on Earth and beyond!
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|