NASA's robonaut2
NASA's robonaut2 NASA's robonaut2
aug 04, 2010

NASA's robonaut2

‘robonaut2’ – robot meets astronaut

the original robonaut, a humanoid robot designed for space travel, was developed 10 years ago by the robot systems technology branch at the national aeronautics and space administration‘s (NASA) johnson space centre in collaboration with DARPA . during the past decade, NASA has gained significant knowledge in how to build robot technologies for space applications, helping NASA cast a new era of space exploration.

for the current version of the robonaut, known as robonaut2 or R2, NASA and general motors are working together to accelerate the development of the next generation of robots and related technologies for use in both the automotive and aerospace industries. the 300-pound robot consists of a head and a torso with two arms and two hands.

the R2 is a dexterous anthropomorphic robot. like its predecessor, it is capable of handling a wide range of extra-vehicular activity (EVA) tools and interfaces, but has speeds that are more than five times faster than the original robonaut. the R2 is also more compact and even more dexterous, and features a wider range of sensing. the R2 system includes: extended finger and thumb travel, extreme neck travel, high resolution camera and IR systems, miniaturized 6-axis lad cells, optimized overlapping dual arm dexterous workspace, redundant force sensing, series elastic joint technology and ultra-high speed joint controllers.

the dexterity of the robo allows it to use the same tools that astronauts currently do, removing the need for specialized tools just for robots. it has the ability to take over simple repetitive, or especially dangerous tasks on places such as the international space station. because the R2 is approaching human dexterity, tasks such as changing out an air filter can be performed without modifications to the existing design.

the R2 will be first every humanoid robot to go into space next month, joining the international space station’s crew, helping researchers build a robot that can carry out dangerous or repetitive tasks in space that would otherwise be performed by a human. testing the robot inside the station will provide an important intermediate environment. robonaut2 will be tested in microgravity and subjected to the station’s radiation and electromagnetic interference environment. the interior operations will provide performance data about how a robot may work side-by-side with astronauts. as development activities progress on the ground, station crews may be provided hardware and software to update R2 to enable it to do new tasks. for now, R2 is still a prototype and does not have adequate protection needed to exist outside the station in the extreme temperatures of space.

‘robonaut2’ twittering

from space, the robot will also be sending twitter updates of the journey from the account of @astrorobonaut, however, the R2 will not be composing tweets on its own. the team from the NASA’s johnson space center in houston, texas are behind the 140-character messages.

working on the mechanical dexterity of the robot

‘this project exemplifies the promise that a future generation of robots can have both in space and on earth, not as replacements for humans but as companions that can carry out key supporting roles. the combined potential of humans and robots is a perfect example of the sum equaling more than the parts. it will allow us to go farther and achieve more than we can probably even imagine today.’ – john olson, director of NASA’s exploration systems integration office at NASA headquarters in washington

preparing R2 for blastoff

monitoring the activity of the R2 at ground level

monitoring the activity of the R2 at ground level all images courtesy of NASA

via discovery

  • how they do a GM recall in space?

    car seller says:
  • Just remember this …

    “I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.”

    See ya’ in space!

    Mushi says:
  • why on earth the robot has muscles?

    alessandro says:
  • Cuz ‘Merica ain’t buildin’ none a them thar sissy bots!

    Mushi says:
  • It as muscle because it’s inspired by a super design machine, the human body. Probably it’s an intelligent thing. No?

    Poetti says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

technology news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
492,145 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample