One Dextrous Robot: GM’s Robonaut 2 Will Help NASA at Space Station

Honda’s Asimo isn’t the only technologically advanced robot built by an automaker: General Motors has been involved with the development of Robonaut 2, which is scheduled to travel to space with NASA in February 2011.

Part of the appeal of Robonaut 2, or R2, is his human-like hands.

“R2’s arms and hands have a jointed skeleton similar to a human,” said Marty Linn, GM principal robotics engineer, “although the thumbs have four degrees of freedom, almost like a human.”

Thus, R2 can use tools with relative ease and his control systems can adjust grip based on the reaction from his fingers. GM claims R2 is adept at handling unexpected objects or tasks. For example, R2 can adapt to different grips when shaking hands with people.

Of course, R2 wasn’t built to shake hands. Rather, R2 will work at the International Space Station helping to assemble new modules for the station or wiping down hand rails as the astronauts concentrate on other tasks. A demonstration of R2’s abilities took place this morning in Detroit.

“Working with NASA’s scientists and engineers we are confident we have created the most technologically advanced robot in the world,” said Ken Knight, GM executive director, global manufacturing engineering.

Source: GM