Washington, D.C. – A human-like robot developed jointly by NASA and General Motors will become the first to take up permanent residence in the International Space Station. The two worked under a cooperative agreement to develop Robonaut 2, or R2, a robotic assistant than can work alongside humans both in space and in manufacturing plants.
The 136-kilogram R2 consists of a head, torso, and two arms with hands. It will launch on the space shuttle Discovery as part of the STS-133 mission planned for September. R2 will join another space station robot, Dextre, that was built by the Canadian Space Agency. It consists of two long arms that perform tasks normally undertaken by spacewalking astronauts. R2 will be confined to the station’s laboratory, but future enhancements could allow it to move freely around the station’s interior, and could one day be modified to operate outside the complex.
General Motors said that it plans to use technologies from R2 in future advanced vehicle safety systems and manufacturing plant applications. The manufacturing engineering team is already working to identify potential applications for R2’s array of vision, motion and sensor technologies that will assist workers in manufacturing operations.