NASA’s Robonaut will get a pair of legs!

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

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Robonaut was designed to be harder, better, faster, and stronger. Sorry for the Daft Punk reference, I couldn’t resist.

If you had a robot of your own, what would you have him do for you? According to Rob Ambrose, who runs the robotics program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, kids want robots to “do their homework” and “clean their room!” Even adults immediately seem to imagine robotic housekeepers wheeling about “to tidy the house.”

Okay, so maybe the average family just wants a glorified machine maid, but what about sophisticated astronauts? According to NASA’s robotics astronaut specialist, Rick Mastracchio, they want metallic janitors too, only this time for outer space chores! So, in order to better focus on more important research tasks, he will be shipped off into space and attach legs to a very special creation called Robonaut.

Robonaut is a skilled humanoid robot that can complete a huge range of tasks astronauts find a bit tedious to complete themselves. “Some of their tasks are just boring – holding a sensor in front of an air filter and move it over after about five minutes. Then repeat,” explained Ambrose.

As you can imagine, astronauts have much better things to do than just mindlessly hold a sensor. In fact, Ambrose says there’s a very long list of tasks astronauts want Robonaut to complete, one of which includes cleaning the toilet!

There’s just one problem: the humanoid bot is connected to a stationary platform, so busy astronauts have to spend extra time hauling the chores to him. In other words, it’s a chore to bring the chores to the Robonaut!

In order to increase the bot’s range of movement, NASA will attach legs to the versatile machine. The limbs come equipped with toe-like units that allow him to latch on as he completes different chores around in space!

The space agency plans to launch Mastracchio and the limbs in the next SpaceX launch, which is scheduled for early next year.


Images and video courtesy of NASA.