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  (Source: NASA)
Robot dubbed R2 can use hands for things previous bots couldn't

Robots are being developed around the world for use in a myriad of tasks. People have dreamed of robots that will help take care of their homes and work alongside humans for decades and as technology evolves, we are coming closer to that reality.

Robots using technology that was once pure fiction are now actually being developed. Honda developed a small humanoid robot in 2009 called Asimo that was controlled by the thoughts of the human sitting in the control chair. The system used electroencephalography technology to measure electrical potential on the scalp of the operator with tech that was able to measure blood flow in the brain. Together with other tech, the user could control the robot to some extent by thought alone.

NASA is also very interested in robots for space exploration that are capable working in space side by side with human astronauts. The project is continuing despite the fact that Obama's 2011 budget killed hope of a manned mission to the moon.

GM and NASA worked together in the 1960's on the first moon flights. GM played a pivotal role in creating the iconic Lunar Rover Vehicle that the first lunar missions used for transportation. GM and NASA are now working together on the next generation of robots for space exploration and other uses here on Earth where risks to humans are too great. GM and NASA are working together through the Space Act Agreement at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to build a humanoid robot called Robonaut 2 or R2. R2 is a faster and more dexterous version of the original Robonaut NASA built in the past. R2 is capable of using its hands to perform tasks beyond what previous humanoid robots were capable of doing.

NASA's Doug Cooke said, "This cutting-edge robotics technology holds great promise, not only for NASA, but also for the nation. I'm very excited about the new opportunities for human and robotic exploration these versatile robots provide across a wide range of applications."

GM is looking at the R2 project as a way to develop new technology that will allow it to make safer cars and production facilities in the future. The technology being developed in the R2 project uses advanced controls, sensors, and safety systems that can be adapted for vehicles and other needs.

"For GM, this is about safer cars and safer plants," said Alan Taub, GM's vice president for global research and development. "When it comes to future vehicles, the advancements in controls, sensors and vision technology can be used to develop advanced vehicle safety systems. The partnership's vision is to explore advanced robots working together in harmony with people, building better, higher quality vehicles in a safer, more competitive manufacturing environment."

The original Robonaut was built by NASA and designed for space travel as part of a collaborative effort with DARPA ten years ago. NASA has gained significant expertise in robotics and is using what it has learned in the R2 project in the hopes of creating a new era of space exploration.

"Our challenge today is to build machines that can help humans work and explore in space," said Mike Coats, Johnson's center director. "Working side by side with humans, or going where the risks are too great for people, machines like Robonaut will expand our capability for construction and discovery."

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By BeauP on 2/4/2010 10:37:40 AM , Rating: 5
R2 (version) D2?

RE: R2?!
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 2/4/2010 11:08:22 AM , Rating: 3
Only by name.... I say it looks more like C3P0.

As long as they can wash dish, windows and are fluent in over six million forms of communications they will work for me.

RE: R2?!
By Smartless on 2/4/2010 2:06:35 PM , Rating: 2
I dunno, with his face shield and the picture of the two robots holding gun-shaped socket wrenches, I thought Masterchief without the armor. As long as it doesn't turn red and try to destroy Will Smith's car.

On a more serious note, I don't see why they don't send a robot to the moon like the Mars rover. Be easier to do stuff plus signal will be more responsive. Oops someone already said that.

RE: R2?!
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 2/4/2010 2:12:23 PM , Rating: 3
Hey now, stay with one movie. This tread is for Star Wars... The I-robot thread it two down. I'm mean if we are just going anywhere with this thread then I'd say they look more like "power rangers" then anything else... :)

RE: R2?!
By MrBlastman on 2/4/2010 12:31:31 PM , Rating: 1
Nice but... too bad they won't have funding to put this thing out into space or, at the least, the moon! :-|

(perhaps they should put it on Mars... oh, wait. Spending on NASA isn't as important doling out to other useless organizations.)

RE: R2?!
By geddarkstorm on 2/4/2010 1:03:28 PM , Rating: 2
With an RTG as a power supply, we could launch some of these to the moon with materials and have them build a base for us. There is so much potential for these. But we have to give them a good power source so they can be autonomous.

RE: R2?!
By dragonbif on 2/4/2010 1:36:22 PM , Rating: 2
They would also need an AI system like the Geth.

RE: R2?!
By Alexvrb on 2/4/2010 7:58:17 PM , Rating: 2
I for one welcome our new Geth overlords!

(I KNEW I should have taken Overload lessons!)

RE: R2?!
By superPC on 2/4/2010 4:35:26 PM , Rating: 2
now that we have the mechanical system, time to developed the computer system and make this robot truly autonomous like R2D2. i want to have a robot that can do my dishes, wash my clothes, clean my house all with voice command.

RE: R2?!
By Jeffk464 on 2/5/2010 8:04:02 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't this stuff already done by your dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer?

RE: R2?!
By xlion on 2/7/2010 5:21:07 PM , Rating: 3
Isn't this stuff already done by your wife?

Humanoid design not required
By aguilpa1 on 2/4/2010 11:31:33 AM , Rating: 4
If its meant to be an autonomous or remote controlled robot, making it humanoid shaped is not required. It could have 3 appendiges, 4 or six with sensors located anywhere necessary. It should be designed to be dextrous, mobile and super functional not necessarily humanoid.

RE: Humanoid design not required
By geddarkstorm on 2/4/2010 1:05:46 PM , Rating: 2
What do you think the human design represents? The most dexterity and ability for the least amount of energy use and maintenance. There's a reason we look the way we do, instead of like giant spiders.

RE: Humanoid design not required
By PorreKaj on 2/4/2010 1:32:34 PM , Rating: 1
Not true...

We waste a lot of energy on things like ballance and even on blood cirkulation because we are built this way.

Our body's are very fleksible, in the sense of how we can do allmost everyting. Robots need not be this fleksible, depending on what it should do.

RE: Humanoid design not required
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 2/4/2010 2:07:08 PM , Rating: 3
"We waste a lot of energy on things like ballance and even on blood cirkulation because we are built this way."

I must be defective and not wasting enough as I'm storing way to much of my wasted energy around my waist.

RE: Humanoid design not required
By EJ257 on 2/5/2010 2:35:36 PM , Rating: 2
Well if all you do is sit on your ass all day in front of a computer screen your not going to need much balancing or circulation. ;)

As for equipping these with RTG, why not send a solar power station along and beam power to these robots wirelessly?

By stirfry213 on 2/4/2010 1:09:55 PM , Rating: 3
On a purely logical and functional basis, I completely agree with you.

But this isn't about that. Its the deep human need to play god. We are building them in our image. Will this ultimately turn to be the most efficient design? Only time will tell.

By KingofL337 on 2/4/2010 10:56:46 AM , Rating: 2
Just because NASA doesn't have the budget to go to the moon this year, doesn't mean that the change is permanent. As a nation our government is spending money like it is going out of style. We may need to scale back NASA for a few years to get things under control. When you are scraping for pennies you don't go buy a Porsche, neither should our government.

By rmclean816 on 2/4/2010 11:17:29 AM , Rating: 2
tool is a troll

By JediJeb on 2/4/2010 1:56:41 PM , Rating: 2
If it hasn't already been done, then NASA should make the entire specs for things like the SaturnV engines and such available to companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, ect to give them a boost in developing the next generation of rocket technology. It probably is already public, but if not they need to make it so.

It just seems odd that 50 years ago we could design vehicles capable of reaching orbit and even making it to the moon using sliderules and hand drafting techniques and yet it is difficult for these private companies to do it now with autocad, cadcam machines, and computers the early NASA engineers could only dream of. Their budget may be smaller but the advancement in technology in the past 50 years should make up for some of that. If these private companies do get the billion dollar contracts to resupply the ISS I believe they will reach that goal quickly and go beyond faster than most of us imagine they will.

By 3minence on 2/4/2010 2:28:23 PM , Rating: 1
Apples and Oranges. The mission of Apollo was to get to the moon, plant the flag, then come home. If that was all we were doing this time it would be done already. But it's not. NASA was working toward going to the moon and staying. That is a completely different creature. The Constellation program consisted of a smaller rocket to carry humans to LEO only, and a much larger rocket to carry heavy loads, or travel to the moon.

We are way passed the "plant the flag stage".

As for SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, I really wouldn't expect to see them as players for carrying astronauts. The players will be Boeing, Lockhead Martin, and the other "big guys" who build the larger rockets like Delta and Atlas. The small guys are innovative, but the big guys got the experience, money, and resources.

Robot Unions?
By gookpwr on 2/4/2010 1:54:03 PM , Rating: 2
Well as a former Manufacturing engineer for GM, I can tell you why GM is so interested in this. They can use robots to replace human operators on the assembly line. At some point the human operator count would be so low that it would negate the force of the labor unions. Robots would also reduce the cost of of the plants, because they wouldn't have to implement a lot of the safety regulations that are so expensive in North American plants (Not including Mexico). They could also improve production, because robots wouldn't require the amount of break time (Read: Down Time) that humans are.

If russia had released these...
By siberus on 2/4/2010 4:43:25 PM , Rating: 2
They'd be called cosmobots.

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