NASA builds new generation robot astronaut

Posted by Emma Woollacott

NASA and General Motors have jointly developed a new robot designed to help astronauts - and build cars on the side.

Robonaut 2, or R2, is a faster, more dexterous and more technologically advanced robot that can use its hands to do work beyond the scope of earlier humanoid machines, say the developers.

"Our challenge today is to build machines that can help humans work and explore in space," said Mike Coats, director of the Johnson Space Center.

"Working side by side with humans, or going where the risks are too great for people, machines like Robonaut will expand our capability for construction and discovery."
 
"For GM, this is about safer cars and safer plants," said Alan Taub, GM's vice president for global research and development. "The partnership's vision is to explore advanced robots working together in harmony with people, building better, higher quality vehicles in a safer, more competitive manufacturing environment."

The original Robonaut, a humanoid robot designed for space travel, was built 10 years ago, and was starting to look decidedly creaky.

D2 is not only more dexterous, but also stronger than its predecessor. It can lift a 20lb weight at arm's length, about four times as much as any other dexterous robot, says NASA.

There's a video, here.

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