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Tuesday August 23, 2011 2:52 pm

NASA fires up humanoid robot, Robonaut 2


Posted by Andru Edwards - Categories: Science


Astrorobonaut

Coming in at three feet four inches and 330 pounds, it’s Robonaut 2, NASA’s humanoid robot. Six months after it was first delivered to the International Space Station by Space Shuttle Discovery, the robot has been powered on for the first time.

Robonaut 2, or R2, tweeted the progress of its first test from the @AstroRobonaut feed, operated by NASA’s Joe Bibby, a multimedia specialist working out of Houston’s Johnson Space Center, where R2's ground support is located.

“My power cable is plugged in and my status LEDs on my power backpack are on,” Robonaut tweeted Monday morning.


The robot continued to post various updates about the status of the two-hour test as it was hooked up by two mission specialists in the Destiny module of the ISS and received power from the ground.

“Ground team in Houston has successfully connected with me through my graphical user interface,” it later said.

The $2.5 million bot is the first robot to be launched into space, and it was built through a partnership between NASA and General Motors to work as a helper for the space station’s six-person crew. With a head, a torso, and a pair of arms and hands, the robot looks similar to a human astronaut, but it lacks legs and feet. NASA said on R2’s Web site that it could get these extra appendages added in 2013. It will also be several weeks before it begins to move its head around, as its operators run initial tests, Space.com said.

“Everything came alive,” Robonaut’s deputy project manager Nic Radford said of the test. “We started getting video out of Robonaut’s eyes. Everything worked exactly as we expected it to. It was a very, very exciting time.”

Robonaut will be tested again on Sept. 1, when ground control will direct it to move its arms and hands for the first time. NASA currently has four different humanoid robots, with additional bots in development.   

This article, written by Leslie Horn, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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