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NASA Robotics Space Science

Robonaut To Escort On Space Shuttle Mission 74

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the goodness-gracious-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The STS-133 crew will deliver robot Robonaut 2 (R2) to the International Space Station. Cocooned inside an aluminum frame and foam blocks cut out to its shape, R2 is heading to the station inside the Permanent Multipurpose Module in space shuttle Discovery's payload bay. R2, with its humanlike hands and arms and stereo vision, is expected to perform some of the repetitive or more mundane functions inside the orbiting laboratory to free astronauts for more complicated tasks and experiments."
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Robonaut To Escort On Space Shuttle Mission

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  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @12:05PM (#33229828)
    Just as long as they don't start staffing their shuttles with bending units!
    • I think the flaming belches would probably be enough to keep Bender off the ISS.
      The lack of alcohol is of course what keeps me off the ISS.

      Hey my sig is on topic. :)
    • by Kepesk (1093871)
      No, they would need to take up Bender's cousin, Floater.
  • seriously, why are humans (who need food, rest, air, copious exercise and a million dollar toilet) still our primary means of getting work done in space?
    • by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Thursday August 12, 2010 @12:13PM (#33229940) Homepage Journal

      Because robotic teleoperation, while handy, is far from perfect?

      • But, as this article shows, is getting better all the time. I'm not saying manned spaceflight shouldn't occur. But think about the cost benefits of having people using telerobotics to do on-orbit assembly in 3 shifts with multiple on-the-ground controllers. At that point, you're only limited on construction by a) how fast you can get new pieces into orbit to bolt together and b) power consumption of the telerobotics systems. Seems to work fairly well for UAV drivers out of Las Vegas.

        • by sznupi (719324)

          Should be fun on the Moon - it's just close enough to at least try teleoperation. I hope any future efforts will put a live stream on the web...

          • Agreed. Unfortunately, anything past that is going to be worthless. Benefit? Fully autonomous systems are going to get built extremely well.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by khallow (566160)

              Agreed. Unfortunately, anything past that is going to be worthless. Benefit? Fully autonomous systems are going to get built extremely well.

              Heh, and we get to the point about having humans in the mix. No need to develop fully autonomous systems (especially, if you didn't want the system to be fully autonomous), when we already have fully autonomous systems that we use every day and trust.

              • by sznupi (719324)

                ...mostly teleoperating (when it's needed) a mostly autonomous fleet of robots nearby.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by kurokame (1764228)

          There's a hard limit though. The light barrier.

          To some extent, you can design around this. Have it be human-directed semi-automatic operation instead of strict teleoperation. This is probably good enough for orbit. Possibly good enough for lunar. But beyond that...zip. Too much latency. Eight minutes of latency per astronomical unit of distance, period, no compromises.

    • by sznupi (719324) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @12:26PM (#33230048) Homepage

      WTF are you talking about? Have you ever looked at the vast number of unmanned spacecraft doing work for us right now? Ever noticed how many were launched & operational even before Vostok 1?

      It is really hilarious - those claiming we don't need "inspiring" manned programmes...completelly taken by them themselves, apparently, to the point of not noticing how humans are not, and never were "our primary means of getting work done in space"

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @12:38PM (#33230174)

      Because people want to be there.

      besides there are a LOT of other things my taxes go to that I really don't want to pay for. Sending people into space is just a good idea. as it improves our knowledge on how to do so. So if were survive long enough and need to escape earth we can and possible settle someone else.

      If we don't wast time and money on humans in space the knowledge will go away. Just think if we were to go to the moon again we need to rethink everything again because we havn't been there in 40 years. And we have forgotten how to.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by shadowmage36 (840208)
        Agreed. Heinlein said it best:

        "I now define 'moral behavior' as 'behavior that tends toward survival.' I won't argue with philosophers or theologians who choose to use the word 'moral' to mean something else, but I do not think anyone can define "behavior that tends toward extinction" as being 'moral' without stretching the word 'moral' all out of shape.

        Selfishness is the bedrock on which all moral behavior starts and it can be immoral only when it conflicts with a higher moral imperative. An animal so poor in spirit that he won't even fight on his own behalf is already an evolutionary dead end; the best he can do for his breed is to crawl off and die, and not pass on his defective genes.

        The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for your own immediate family. This is the level at which six pounds of mother cat can be so fierce that she'll drive off a police dog. It is the level at which a father takes a moonlighting job to keep his kids in college -- and the level at which a mother or father dives into a flood to save a drowning child ... and it is still moral behavior even when it fails.
        br> Evolution is a process that never stops. Baboons who fail to exhibit moral behavior do not survive; they wind up as meat for leopards.

        The next level in moral behavior higher than that exhibited by the baboon is that in which duty and loyalty are shown toward a group of your own kind too large for an individual to know all of them. We have a name for that. It is called 'patriotism.' Behaving on a still higher moral level were the astronauts who went to the Moon, for their actions tend toward the survival of the entire race of mankind.

        Many short-sighted fools think that going to the Moon was just a stunt. But the astronauts knew the meaning of what they were doing, as is shown by Neil Armstrong's first words in stepping down onto the soil of Luna: 'One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.'"

    • by PagosaSam (884523)
      Who else is going to fix all the damn robots?
  • R2 looks like the upper torso of a sculpted bodybuilder...

    I'll be back. Fuck you asshole. Hasta la vista, baby.

    • perhaps you meant: Dave: Open the pod bay door R2 R2: Fuck you asshole
    • by natehoy (1608657)

      I'm thinking "no". Have you seen pictures of Arnie recently?

      More like "In the flab on my back, you could say hasta la vista to a baby, or maybe a full-grown man."

  • Hmmm... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Last_Available_Usern (756093) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @12:08PM (#33229874)
    Does it have a giant red LED and talk in a very calm, soothing voice?
  • R2, with its humanlike hands and arms and stereo vision, is expected to perform some of the repetitive or more mundane functions inside the orbiting laboratory...

    The PETR activists are gonna have a field day with this one...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Qzukk (229616)

      The PETR activists are gonna have a field day with this one...

      I don't think robots are all that tasty.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The PETR activists are gonna have a field day with this one...

        I don't think robots are all that tasty.

        L. Ron Hoover [killuglyradio.com] from the Church of Appliantology [killuglyradio.com] would agree.

  • by spongman (182339) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @12:11PM (#33229916)

    ... he doesn't fart.

    • by BobMcD (601576)

      I'm not sure he would never emit odors, though. Probably smells like wiring and ozone all the time...

  • In before LucasFilm sues their asses off.

    And from the looks of the thing, Bungie/Microsoft may want to take a shot, too.

  • It tweets. (Score:3, Informative)

    by davev2.0 (1873518) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @12:21PM (#33230000)
    You can follow its adventures on twitter: @AstroRobonaut [twitter.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    For those cold, lonely nights on the ISS.

  • by DrugCheese (266151) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @12:24PM (#33230026)

    Next they'll ruin R2 by making him fly with tiny rockets.

  • Nice photo (Score:3, Informative)

    by toxonix (1793960) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @12:26PM (#33230044)
    With all the power of the internets, the article can't give us more than a thumbnail of this robot. You want some real robot pron, go to engadget: http://www.engadget.com/photos/nasa-and-gms-robonaut2/2677799/#2677802 [engadget.com]

    The gold visored helmet. WANT

    Pumping IRON: http://www.engadget.com/photos/nasa-and-gms-robonaut2/2677799/#2677804 [engadget.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rvw (755107)

      With all the power of the internets, the article can't give us more than a thumbnail of this robot.
      You want some real robot pron, go to engadget:
      http://www.engadget.com/photos/nasa-and-gms-robonaut2/2677799/#2677802 [engadget.com]

      When I open that page, it disappears in a second, so here's the direct url to the picture:

      Robonaut 2 [blogcdn.com]

    • by cf18 (943501)
      The Engadget site don't work on my Linux Firefox, but the official site work: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasarobonaut/show/ [flickr.com]
    • "The gold visored helmet. WANT "

      Visor? How about some fucking legs?

      I can just see this thing dragging itself around the space station like some half-dead detritus of interstellar war, smoke and ozone wafting from the shattered remains of its lower torso....Groan!!!..Must reach repair module....energy reserves critical....bzzzt! Need...legs. Groan...Zap!

      Oh. Right. No gravity.

      Neat gun though!

      Zap!...must reach self-destruct sequence activator...Fzzzt! Legs...destroyed...all...is...Zzzzzt! Zap!...lost!...Ssssss

      • by toxonix (1793960)
        I want the helmet for driving around town. Like the Stig, but gold.

        Some lucky Cosmonaut will end up wearing this robot as a backpack. "Hey, Ivan, turn around! I can't see anything!"
  • Today we not only have touchy-feely user interfaces, we also have escort service to the International Space Station
  • Immediate (FTO) NASA - Space Station Droid
    Must be able to perform repetivite, mundane tasks while freeing humans to do more complicated tasks.
    Droid must be:
    - capable of surviving in-space jettisons
    - able to store/deliver distress messages
    - provide and manage combat and technical information in high-stress situations (eg: raids, combat)
    - able to rescue and repair C-3P0 units
    - capable of overriding security systems (in-depth knowledge of Vader Death Systems LLC a plus)
    - able to maintain and troubleshoot Falco

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... repetitive or more mundane functions inside the orbiting laboratory...

    As a layman, I'd think the more troublesome tasks on the ISS involved the hassle of getting into an EVA suit for activities outside the space station. In which case the bulky pressure suit and heavy gloves are likely to give an astronaut no better manual dexterity than what could be provided by a robotic waldo. So wouldn't it be smarter to have the robot on an armature external to the station? Or is this just considered a testing phase to make sure that such robot is reliable and flexible enough before put

  • I saw an article on Boing Boing about a month ago telling about this guy being sent to the moon in 2013 with Armadillo Aerospace providing the lander. I was surprised I never saw anything on /. covering the clip.

    http://boingboing.net/2010/07/08/nasa-robonauts-on-mo.html [boingboing.net]
  • It's cool and all, but did they seriously need to gold plate the thing?

  • I love this stuff (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DomHawken (1335311) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @01:44PM (#33230858) Homepage
    As an oldish (40+) programmer who's only recently got into robotics (the simple stuff - arduino, sparkfun, xbee, khr3-hv), coding the control software to make a robot actually do stuff is way more challenging than the supposedly complex projects I work at on my day job. Programming a robot kit to walk or pull poses is simple enough, but coding 'any form of 'intelligent' decision making ends up with lines and lines of code and as many sensors you can sensibly add to the hardware.

    I thought it would be pretty simple to build and code a robot cleaner - like a basic remote control car that just drives around the house with a duster underneath which heads back home when the batteries are running low and recharges. Clearly the challenge of climbing the stairs can move to the version 2 release, but if I stick it on the first floor, just stopping it falling down the stairs needs around five sensors and over 500 lines of code.

    Two cameras for 3D spatial awareness? Try coding it to tell the difference between and apple and an orange. Built in GPS to get an absolute position reference? Even if you get a signal, 5 meter accuracy doesn't help much when you are driving it towards a lift shaft.

    That's why I love this stuff.
  • not a robot (Score:4, Informative)

    by FalseModesty (166253) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @01:47PM (#33230892)
    It's a Waldo, not a robot.
  • by captain_dope_pants (842414) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @03:23PM (#33232406)
    For God's sake not a single "robotic overlord" post yet ? It's a fucking ROBOT. IN SPACE !!11!one =P
  • i had a bad feeling when i read the summary, but when I saw the picture of the thing it became very clear what is going to happen. I've seen enough sci-fi to know that thing is definitely going to turn on the crew when it gets up there. It will probably sample everyone's voices and for years it will provide radio communication and no one will realize that astronaut and cosmonaut corpses are circling the earth. Then it will watch from above as it figures out ways to manipulate government intelligence and

  • Now that's an expensive escort service...

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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