NASA's humanlike robot to fly in space
MCT NEWSFEATURES (EDITORS: With breakout material at bottom of story.)
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- To watch NASA's Robonaut 2 tip its head and gaze down at its open palms as it flexes its fingers and opposable thumbs is to believe there must be a human behind the opaque gold visor on the robot's face. In fact, there are only cameras.
Robonaut 2, which NASA hopes to launch Feb. 3 aboard the space shuttle Discovery on a flight to its permanent home on the International Space Station, will be the first humanoid-like robot to fly in space. Based on technology nurtured in part at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., and built jointly by the space agency and General Motors, the robot has a head, two arms and a humanlike chest and shoulders. It has fingers, thumbs and wrists with enough dexterity to grip a pen and write "hello." It can even dial an iPhone.
Robonaut 2 was built "to bring robots to the next level," said Vytas SunSpiral, a senior robotics researcher at Ames, "to where you could see them working in people's houses, or out in public."