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NASA Robotics Science

NASA To Send a Humanoid Robot On Shuttle's Final Mission 119

coondoggie writes "Perhaps taking a page from a Star Wars script, NASA said today it will send its newest humanoid robot, known as Robonaut2, on board the space shuttle's final mission. R2 is capable of using the same tools as humans, letting it work closely with people in space."
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NASA To Send a Humanoid Robot On Shuttle's Final Mission

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  • Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @01:52PM (#31847430) Journal

    As long as R2 can provide more power to the forward couplings I think things will work out just fine.

    This is a nice follow up to the earlier "Armstrong criticizes Obama" [] article. In case anyone missed
    ral's comment in that other article, Buzz Aldrin has a different take [] on Obama's new plan.

  • by jhumkey ( 711391 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:00PM (#31847534) Journal
    How is it controlled? Via computer command? Via voice command? Via preprogrammed sequence? Via no command whatsoever (where its just a remote manipulator torso controlled directly by humans.) If it has innate skills, does it have vision systems to find a bolt, and a hole, and know how to use a wrench and install the bolt? Is there any task its programmed to complete independently? (Yes, I linked onto the NASA article too. . . no more real information there.) Gosh, wouldn't 10million children suddenly develop interest in robotics if they thought we really were close to an "R2-D2" like robot? No discussion of "Humanoid" vs "Practical configuration"? Can no one write a fulfilling article anymore? (Makes me want to go "blogger" and track down these answers . . . if I thought I could get paid to do so . . .) Its a shame that those that are paid to do so . . . don't.
  • Re:Why? Why? WHY? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:20PM (#31847774)

    I think "optimized for the expected tasks" is the tricky bit. Since the space station and spacecraft are definitely designed for humans to work in, a human-shaped robot should be able to reach and manipulate all the important bits, even if the job that needs to be done was NOT expected. In fact, the unexpected (and therefore potentially more dangerous) tasks might be the best candidates for expendable robot workers to do.

    If you're advocating that we abandon manned spaceflight, I have to disagree. Unmanned missions are valuable, but I still think we need people in space.

  • Re:Why? Why? WHY? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:29PM (#31847886) Homepage

    If a robot with humanoid torso (two cameras in its head, too) is controlled directly by human operator, it can give a rather nice immersion, "feel", situational awareness; I guess.

    Plus if the operator is inside the station, there's even not much of a problem with guerilla arm...

  • Re:Why? Why? WHY? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Un pobre guey ( 593801 ) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:57PM (#31848200) Homepage
    No, it doesn't. You will always need to design some amount of mission-specific equipment. In any case, most industrial robotic design today relies on generalizable platforms with diverse plug-in modules. This is a non-issue.

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.