Rowboat 2, or R2, is the robot being developed jointly by NASA and General Motors technicians under a cooperation agreement to develop a robotic assistant that can work alongside humans.
Technological development is designed to working with astronauts in space or in the near future, with workers in the auto manufacturing plants and other automated plants on Earth.
The R2 weighs about 150 kilos and is composed of a head and a torso with two arms and two hands with enough fine motor skills. Will be launched on the shuttle Discovery as part of STS-133 mission scheduled for September this year.
Once aboard the station R2 to “join” another robot is already at the station, known as Dexter. This robot, built by the Canadian Space Agency, has two long arms that are used to perform tasks that normally require the work of astronauts.
While Dexter is located outside the station, R2 is doomed to operations in the laboratory of the station. However, future improvements could allow it to move more freely inside the station, and could one day be modified to operate in space.
“Use of R2 in the space station is only the beginning of an accelerated rate of progress between the union and human and robotic exploration in space, “said John Olson, director of NASA’s Exploration of the Office of Systems Integration.
“The association of humans and robots will be critical for opening up the solar system and allow us to go further and get more than you probably can imagine today.”
This humanoid robot not only has some semblance of being human, but is designed to operate in a similar way: with hands and arms similar to human. So R2 is able to use the same tools that the human crew members.
In the future, humanoid robots in space can be helpers in tasks too difficult or dangerous for humans.