Robonaut2: NASA's Red Shirt Who May One Day Rule the Fleet

Back in the 60s, astronauts had to compete with monkeys to make their way into space. Today, NASA and GM have developed a new trainable, expendable crew member. Its name is Robonaut2.

(The original Robonaut, developed a decade ago, never got off the ground.)


Ambidextrous and designed to use the same tools as humans, Robonaut2 can lift up to 20lbs (just check out that lead photo!) and operate in environments too dangerous or inconvenient for humans to work. From what we can tell given the past decade of Robonaut development, the system is loaded with technologies like head tracking, so Robonaut can autonomously watch a human's every move, but the limited AI seems to take the backseat as Robonaut is more of a VR controlled construction worker than a HAL on legs.

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Well, that's as of today. The bottom line is that, in the not so distant future, we'll be able to build robots that need far less care than humans. Robots were the first to walk (OK, roll) on Mars. And it's hard to imagine that trend slowing down, ever. [Nasa via Engadget]