Saturday, September 18, 2010

Humanoid Robot To Space

Marking another giant leap in the field of robotics NASA getting redy to send their first Humanoid robot " Robonaut 2 or R2 ". It is set to launch on  1 November 2010, in space shuttle Discovery and travel to international space station and will become a permanent resident. There it will aid the astronauts and scientists in their work.R2 has two arms which is quite similar to humans. In the space station the astronounts will mount R2 on a pedestal inside one of labs and use it to perform tasks like flipping switches, cleaning air filters, and holding tools.

The main goal is to find out how manipulation robots behave in space -- and also give crew members a second pair of hands. NASA hopes the experience will allow it to upgrade the robot in the future, so it would be able to support astronauts in more complex tasks, including repairs and scientific missions inside and outside the ISS.

The Robonaut, which looks a bit like Star Wars' Boba Fett, is about 150 kilograms [330 pounds]. Built primarily with aluminum with steel parts, it carries over 350 sensors and has a total of 42 degrees of freedom.

Each arm is about 80 centimeters long and can hold 9 kg [20 lb] in Earth's gravity. Each hand has 12 degrees of freedom: 4 degrees of freedom in the thumb, 3 degrees of freedom each in the index and middle fingers, and 1 each in the other fingers.

Behind its helmet visor are four visible light cameras: two provide stereo vision for the robot and remote operators, and two work as auxiliary cameras. A fifth infrared camera is housed in the mouth area for depth perception.

Because the head is full of cameras, the robot's computer system -- 38 PowerPC processors -- are housed inside the torso. Or as NASA puts it, "R2 thinks with its stomach -- literally."

This version of the robot has no legs or wheels. It's 101 cm [3 feet, 4 inches] tall from waist to head. “From the waist up he looks quite like me,” Radford jokes. “Big biceps and very muscular.”

Working with GM over the past three years, NASA originally designed Robonaut 2 as a prototype to be used on Earth so engineers could understand what would be needed to eventually send a robot to space. But when mission managers saw the robot early this year, they were so impressed they decided to send it to the space station. The Robonaut team was given six months to get the robot ready.


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