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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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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.


"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad














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