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Japanese Consortium Projects a Humanoid Robot On the Moon By 2015

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the why-can't-they-send-them-all? dept.

Moon 151

JoshuaInNippon writes "A Japanese manufacturing cooperative named Astro-Technology SOHLA announced on April 27th that they are planning to create and send a two-legged humanoid robot to the moon, have it draw the Japanese flag on the surface, and hopefully then get it to return to the Earth, all by the year 2015. The group wants to inspire people, particularly in Japan, about space and generate confidence among SMEs to create low-cost space technology. While the idea may seem far-fetched to some, SOHLA had success in building a small low-cost satellite named Maido-1, which was launched into space aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket in early 2009. The group also commented that they want to have their future humanoid robot hitch a ride to the moon with a surveying rover that JAXA is building."

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Can't you just draw it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32036018)

With some giant laser?

Re:Can't you just draw it (1)

the_other_one (178565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037016)

Cha

That is one powerful projector! (1)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036022)

maybe they use superbright LEDs?

And What Will It Do? (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036026)

Will it be able to hit golfballs like the earlier astronauts? Will it plant a flag? Hell, will it even be able to right itself or free itself from its restraints once it 'lands'?

If they just want to lose a robot, they should send it down the Jersey Turnpike and see how it does in the truck lanes.

Re:And What Will It Do? (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036088)

No, it will pretty much just draw a flag, it seems. Surely there are less expensive ways to get the kids interested in space?

Re:And What Will It Do? (1)

justin12345 (846440) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037160)

Sending an android to the moon is definitely cool. The Japanese definitely understand the rule of cool [tvtropes.org] .

Re:And What Will It Do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32036090)

And will it speak Boccee?

Re:And What Will It Do? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036416)

yup. fluently.

and over 5,999,999 other forms of communication

Re:And What Will It Do? (1)

Chr0me (180627) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036962)

Of course it can, sir. It's like a second language to it.

Re:And What Will It Do? (0)

MrHelpful (1800846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036196)

Maybe they'll send it up there and it'll have some expensive blinking light to let us know it's still there, lol.

Re:And What Will It Do? (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036648)

Maybe they'll send it up there and it'll have some expensive blinking light to let us know it's still there, lol.

Except that the summary says they want to return it to Earth.

Re:And What Will It Do? (1)

straponego (521991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036368)


Duh, it's Japanese. Sexbot.

Re:And What Will It Do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32036376)

We can put a robot on the moon but we can't have one bring my breakfast to me in bed every morning?

WTF?

Re:And What Will It Do? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036434)

You got a $2 billion budget for that? Huh, sunshine?

Re:And What Will It Do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32037770)

You can get a human to bring you breakfast every morning for less than that.

Re:And What Will It Do? (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036498)

No. But I bet it can talk up a storm with the aliens. [cnet.co.uk]

And since when do robots have enough rights that we bring them back from the moon?

One small step for robot kind. :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32037918)

@"Will it plant a flag?"

Thats easy, provided the flag pops out its ass (like a tail) as soon as it trips over, falling flat on its face and can't get up again!

A historic moment for all robot kind to proudly remember. :)

Why 2-legged? (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036052)

Honestly, this push for 2-legged robots seems pretty silly, and the only reason it's done is because they look more like us. A 4-legged or even 6-legged robot would make far more sense. 4 legs are much more stable than 2, and easier to walk on. If pickup up and handling objects is a concern, then 6 legs is a good alternative. Many insects work this way, after all. Praying mantises are a good example: they have six legs, and use the front two for grasping. For extra stability on rough terrain (which certainly describes the moon), the front legs can be dual-purpose, used for both walking about grasping.

Re:Why 2-legged? (4, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036132)

Or, you know, they could just use wheels like other, very successful robotic explorers....Legs are complicated.

Re:Why 2-legged? (2, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036350)

That's true, legs are complicated. However, they have distinct advantages over wheels on extremely rough terrain. Wheels easily get stuck and lose traction. Legs can easily cope with holes, small and large obstacles, etc. A rock in the way can cause a wheeled vehicle to get stuck, but a legged vehicle can step right over it.

Have you ever seen someone try to take a wheeled vehicle on one of the hiking trails in the Grand Canyon? Even if it weren't against the rules, not many people would be that stupid, because it would mean certain death. But thousands of hikers and mules go up and down the extremely steep and rocky trails every year with almost no problems. The 4-legged mules actually do a lot better than the 2-legged humans too, even if humans are sitting on top of them.

Re:Why 2-legged? (3, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036614)

> Have you ever seen someone try to take a wheeled vehicle on one of the
> hiking trails in the Grand Canyon?

Have you ever seen someone try to take a humanoid robot on one of the
hiking trails in the Grand Canyon?

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037898)

yes, three. Two were fully successful.

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

TheNumberless (650099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32038200)

The differences between humans and humanoid robots are minor implementation details.

Re:Why 2-legged? (2, Informative)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036632)

Well yeah, it's a trade off like everything else in space-vehicle design. If you are definitely sending your robot to rocky parts of the moon, then you should probably use legs. However, if you are going to be wandering around in a fairly small area where rocks can be avoided, wheels make much more sense. Also, wheeled configurations can do much better on rough terrain than those found on Spirit and Opportunity. Just look at the capabilities of a quad or a hummer to see just how rough terrain can get and still allow for wheeled designs. At this point, of course, things probably become so expensive that it does make sense to switch to legs. My point was just that, unless you really are designing a robot to clamber over obstacles, or climb moon-cliffs, legs may very well be an over-design to the system.

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036914)

Just look at the capabilities of a quad or a hummer to see just how rough terrain can get and still allow for wheeled designs.

These vehicles can't handle rough terrain at all. I can (and do) easily hike in places where these vehicles can't pass. The main advantages to wheeled vehicles are simplicity and speed (provided the terrain is smooth enough).

Besides, Hummers are a terrible example of an all-terrain vehicle, and are really quite pathetic. If you want to see a really good all-terrain vehicle that can carry a lot of cargo or personnel (unlike a quad), check out a 6x6 Pinzgauer.

Re:Why 2-legged? (2, Informative)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037668)

You must spend your time observing different quads and hummers than I do. I grew up in the country where four-wheeling and quading were one of very few past times. I have seen hummers and jeeps alike scramble, literally, over boulder ridden inclines. I have watched quads with paddle tires tear through deep sand efficiently. In that same sand, I have watched bipedal humans get off their broken down quads and expend a ridiculous amount of energy having to practically swim their way out of sand that they sink knee deep into. I have seen basic 4 x 4 trucks drive up loose dirt inclines that I, myself, slide down on my ass trying to get up.

I am not saying that either hummers or quads are the end all, be all of wheeled all terrain vehicles. I am just saying they demonstrate that wheels can be effective on some forms of rough terrain. Similarly, legs can be effective on some forms of rough terrain. Your Pinzgauer can be effective on many forms of rough terrain and so on. The original point that I was making was that for any space design mission (moon invasions included) you need to design your system to work particularly well in whatever environment it will be operating in. This requires various trade offs and design analysis. If your design process can show, definitively, that four, six, or eight legs will be the best, cheapest, most successful design, then you should use that. If your analysis shows that two legs would be best, use that. If your design shows that having a massive suspension and monster tires on it is the best design (like a hummer), use that. The point is not whether a hummer or quad can drive where you hike, the point is that your vehicle should use whatever locomotive system best suits it. You may be able to hike up the side of the Grand Canyon whereas a quad cannot. However, I guarantee you that I can ride my quad faster across large distances in deep, loose sand thank you can hike. So it isn't a matter of whether or not those two vehicles, or any vehicle, can do everything. In a given space exploration mission, the necessity to maneuver every possible terrain configuration is very likely unnecessary. However, if your mission calls for maneuvering through terrain that is better explored via wheels, then you should use wheels. If it calls for legs, use legs. If it calls for treads, use treads.

Mind you, I don't intend to disagree with you or pick a fight or anything. I am just explaining that legs require very complex designs with multiple points of failure (both in control software and hardware). If you can navigate the same terrain with some big tires and a heavy suspension, and you don't particularly care about climbing up narrow trails on the Grand Canyon on the moon, then maybe you should look at that design option as well.

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037528)

Or, you know, they could just use wheels like other, very successful robotic explorers....Legs are complicated.

Yeah, just send a Dalek up there. No stairways, no problems.

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

ZeBam.com (1790466) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037666)

Space agencies today have lost touch with reality. They seem to be dedicated more to pandering to commercial pop-culture memes than to actually doing intelligent and productive research and design.

Re:Why 2-legged? (4, Funny)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036152)

So, waa-a-a-ait, you're saying four legs good, two legs baa-aa-aad?

Re:Why 2-legged? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32036214)

Right, but preferably we want our "Greeting Robot" on the moon to look like us. Any approaching aliens will train their weapons on it, check it out. If they shoot it, we know they are hostile. If they leave it alone, and come for a visit to Earth, then they will know what to expect.

I would hate the first interstellar war to be caused by the aliens expecting a 6 legged species and getting a 2 legged one.

Re:Why 2-legged? (3, Funny)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036382)

If that's a concern, then 6-legged is a better way to go. That way, when the hostile aliens come to earth looking for whoever sent the 6-legged robots, they'll attack the insects first, thinking they're the more intelligent species that built everything, and that the humans are just some dumb animals they use as beasts of burden. I don't think there's any insects that are endangered, so we can stand to lose some of them.

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036362)

There are advantages to being bipedal, hence why humans and birds are. OTOH, we're a very long way from robots being comparable to animals in terms of freedom of movement, so a lot of those advantages are lost. But, if we solve a few problems the relevant advantages would be weight (2 vs 4 legs), efficiency (wheels are best, but humans are the most efficient long distance runners), and the ability to step out of a hole.

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036516)

There are advantages to being bipedal, hence why humans and birds are.

You get an 'F' in Evolution.

The correct answer is:

There are no disadvantages to being bipedal that were fatal to the first generation exhibiting the mutuation.

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#32038038)

I'm glad my teacher didn't agree with that assessment! It's more like the trait gave a selective advantage that caused animals that had it to reproduce more, on average, than those without the trait. Or, mathematically, S is slightly less for bipedals than quadrupedals.

I suppose the first generations that began the journey to being bipedal only needed to reproduce enough to give rise to a better bipedal, but it's just as likely that even gimpy bipedalism was an advantage. That's even assuming it was a step-wise transition, a jump wouldn't suffer that drawback.

Either way, being bipedal is an advantage over any invading traits, or it wouldn't be an evolutionarily stable strategy.

Re:Why 2-legged? (2, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036568)

There are advantages to being bipedal, hence why humans and birds are.

Like what?

The only "advantages" to being bipedal is that it frees up two limbs to do things other than walking. With humans, we use our front legs for grasping and carrying and manipulating things. With birds, they use their front legs to fly, which has distinct advantages over walking. Most birds only walk when they're resting, eating, or doing something else where they don't need to travel any significant distance. For primary locomotion, they use their wings, because it's a lot more efficient (and faster) than walking.

But, if we solve a few problems the relevant advantages would be weight (2 vs 4 legs)

If you don't have 4 legs, then you won't be able to do anything on the moon. Humans have 4 legs. We only walk on two of them, and call the other two "arms". They are smaller and lighter, but not that much lighter. Most quadrupedal mammals also have smaller, lighter front legs, which they happen to walk on. With them, just like with us, the rear legs are larger and heavier and provide most of the locomotive power.

efficiency (wheels are best, but humans are the most efficient long distance runners)

Wheels suck for rough terrain. Let's see a 4x4 truck or a mountain biker climb the Grand Canyon, or a mountainside for that matter.

Humans might be energy-efficient long-distance runners, but they're not very fast at it. That efficiency doesn't help too much when you're being chased by a bear or a lion. And I'm pretty sure birds are more efficient than humans at long-distance travel.

and the ability to step out of a hole.

Huh? I'm pretty sure just about any quadrupedal or 6-legged animal can do the same with ease. And with narrow holes (relative to their body size), they wouldn't fall in them to begin with, as their body is spread out more horizontally and if one pair of legs slips, the other pair (or two pairs) is still on the ground.

Re:Why 2-legged? (3, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037204)

Not to discredit any of the very good points that you bring up...

But there are some of the advantages of being bipedal:

1: It weighs a lot less.

2: there is a lot less drag.

3: dynamic equalibrium allows faster turns.

4: If you need a set of limbs for some new function (flight, carrying stuff), evolution is a lot more likely to work if you convert existing limbs instead of growing a whole new pair.

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

flabordec (984984) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036452)

There is also the problem that most of the technology that humans have created is expecting you to have two legs: want to ride a bike? You'll need two legs, want to operate heavy machinery? You'll need two legs.

Making a robot that has human-like features allows the robot to use normal human tools which is fairly important for widespread use (you would not need a special vacuum robot, you could buy a general purpose robot with two arms and two legs and give him your current vacuum).

NOTE: I do realize that the moon is not a normal case, but your post seems to imply the general push for 2-legged robots, not this specific case

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036622)

Making a robot that has human-like features allows the robot to use normal human tools which is fairly important for widespread use (you would not need a special vacuum robot, you could buy a general purpose robot with two arms and two legs and give him your current vacuum).

Designing a special vacuum robot is far, far simpler than designing a robot that can operate a regular vacuum cleaner. After all, we've had Roombas for several years now and they work great. We still haven't figured out how to make a robot that can work like a human; Asimo is about the best that's been done, and it's really pretty lame. I'm sure it's nowhere near dexterous enough to handle a vacuum cleaner.

Roombas are also much smaller and more energy-efficient than an Asimo-like robot.

Re:Why 2-legged? (4, Interesting)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036916)

All true, but when, if you get the humanoid robot right, it can't just use the vacuum cleaner, it can mop the floor, clean the toilet, cook dinner, change lightbulbs, and do basically everything needed in my household, whatever task is around. The roomba will still work great vacuuming the floor, but it'll sit pathetically in its corner, whining sadly while the humanoid bot outclasses him in every other task. I agree though, that we are not remotely at this point. Given that, it is little more than a publicity stunt to put a bipedal on the moon. That doesn't mean, however, that we should not continue researching humanoid robots - or, let me rephrase that, multipurpose robots able to use any tool you throw at them. The main problem is not the number of legs, heck, let it be quadruped - the main problem to solve is the dexterity. For true tool-using multipurpose robots, it would probably be best to give them highly dexterous hands and flexible arms. There's been a lot of success in that field lately - just look at this video [youtube.com] .

Re:Why 2-legged? (3, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036482)

Honestly, this push for 2-legged robots seems pretty silly, and the only reason it's done is because they look more like us.

Its not just because they LOOK more like us - you basically demonstrated half the reasons in your post. They move like us, they have to handle the same stresses as us. Agreed - the human form is not the most efficient for gathering materials or effective travelling on harsh ground. However, we can learn what traveling on the ground would be like for a human WITHOUT sending a human, and thats why you would send a humanoid robot.

It's job is to be drawing the Japanese Flag on the moon. Which, in case you haven't noticed, looks a lot like a crater, so its not like the moon isn't already covered in Japanese flags. This mission is not going to be so much about efficient robotics as it is about getting people into the idea of space travel.

Because they can and it might be good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32036484)

The Japanese definitely have the lead in humanoid robots and have made them run, jump, lift weights and whatnot so whilst they probably will have some challenges in designing it, making it a biped won't be an issue. So why not make it look like something mankind is fond of seeing exploring space? And it might have other advantages too since if you think about it, the reason rovers are rovers isn't exactly because such a design can climb rocks easily but because that's the only design that we can make stable. Judging from the photos taken by the rovers on mars, I'd say that most of the terrain would've been easier for a biped to explore than anything with wheels. Some parts have soft sand and a biped might sink more in it but then again, a biped doesn't have wheels in which sand gets stuck so a biped with "snowshoes" might be the ideal explorer. We are bipeds as a consequence of evolution and maybe there are advantages to it on other celestial bodies too.

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036532)

Humanoid robots work better in enviroments meant for humans though. For example when...tending for those enviroments while humans do more worthwhile stuff. Perhaps Japanese aren't telling us the whole story yet ;)

PS. Roughly humanoid upper torso (yes, 6 legs -> 4 legs + 2 arms transformation done in a specific way will do of course) is good for teleoperating such robot; gives "immersion". And the Moon is close enough for it to be almost realtime...

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

TomRC (231027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036536)

Actually, I think there are some good reasons to go for 2 legs.

It's the minimum you can walk with - so if you can make it work well (and the Japanese have gotten pretty good at it), it makes your robot smaller and less massive, better able to get into tight spaces, etc. It's not statically stable - but again, if you've spent millions already to perfect a 2 legged walking robot, you might as well use it and save some mass.

Why not wheels? Well, in theory a walking robot can go where wheels can't, and specifically for the moon, wheels would kick up a lot more of the fine, abrasive lunar dust, which would get into the bearings and wear it out a lot faster. Leg joints will have a similar issue, but might not kick up the dust as much.

It's possible that in the lunar dust, legs will be more energy efficient - ie. wheels would stop quickly due to rolling friction, where a walking robot loses energy mostly to it's bearings (if properly designed to maintain walking momentum).

Re:Why 2-legged? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32036558)

The project trying to be a mark, an icon of what technology, specifically Japanese technology is capable of.
They are trying to go as close as possible to the human-american landing of 1969. That's why they are copying protocol and even planting a japanese flag. That's why they want the robot back to the earth too.

It is just a representation, a symbol. It has nothing to do with leg stability, work practicality so on and so forth.

Re:Why 2-legged? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32036680)

Wait, so are you suggesting that sending a humanoid robot to the moon to draw a japanese flag on the ground isn't practical?

Re:Why 2-legged? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32036918)

nail meet head in sarcasm. 2 legs is cool and good pr.

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036954)

They do it because they're Japanese. They want an actual Gundam in space.

Re:Why 2-legged? (2, Funny)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037828)

They do it because they're Japanese. They want an actual Gundam in space.

But will it be under the control of the Agriculture Ministry?

Re:Why 2-legged? (2, Interesting)

Dawgmatix (1800864) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036990)

Because defence agencies are willing to fund two legged. This can potentially act as legs for double amputees

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037020)

The only purpose for a humanoid robot is a sex bot.

Well, unless you go to Furry conventions.

then 6 legs is a good alternative.

I'd go for eight legs because:

[1] You have two spares. One leg gets damaged you can jettison it and activate a spare. then it becomes the software engineer's problem. :-P
[2] It's creepier. :-)

Re:Why 2-legged? (2, Insightful)

justin12345 (846440) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037202)

I think the point is that it's a challenge.

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32038048)

The challenge is a good reason, and an eventual form-and-fit robot replacement for humans could facilitate development of human-compatible systems.

Humans are currently a burden to launch, support, and return. As a result, the manned space program interferes with actual exploration (as opposed to tourism) of space.

We want humans in space so they can enjoy themselves, but the utterly hostile environment dictates that they will do most of their interaction with it remotely. Perfect robots (which we need on and off Earth), perfect the technology to support tourists, then send them at leisure. The personal yearning to visit space should be catered to by commercial ventures, but it should not be confused with exploration.

Re:Why 2-legged? (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32038064)

Yea if they're doing important science like drawing their flag on the moon then they shouldn't waste things on flashy two legged robot designs.

Flag planting as proof of ownership or visitation (5, Funny)

networkzombie (921324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036120)

Flag planting by proxy? Will the robot then walk over to the U.S. flag and tear it down?

Re:Flag planting as proof of ownership or visitati (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036262)

The Moon is considered to be like Antarctica. It is a shared resource, not owned by any one nation. This is mostly because those environments are too harsh and remote to establish any economically viable enterprise. When (if) we eventually find a way to make them economically viable, such as climate change melting the Antarctic or cheap launch / recovery vehicles, then we'll begin fighting over who owns them. Until then, we just look at our neighbors suspiciously, and keep the guns stowed away.

Re:Flag planting as proof of ownership or visitati (2, Funny)

boneclinkz (1284458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036324)

That would be the most hysterical prank ever, if the Japanese robot went and uprooted our flag. Seriously, Americans would be calling for another war with Japan. I can see Glenn Beck now.

Re:Flag planting as proof of ownership or visitati (4, Insightful)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036550)

The whole "draw a flag" thing I consider to be the same as vandals tagging walls.

As long as it can only be seen with a really high-power telescope, I guess I don't care a lot. But it's still vandalism, and very distasteful.

Imagine if corporations could simply buy moon advertisements.... We'd be seeing crap like [KRAFT CHEESE] and other crap. The original footprints from the astronauts are still there 50 years later.

Re:Flag planting as proof of ownership or visitati (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036762)

Imagine if corporations could simply buy moon advertisements.... We'd be seeing crap like [KRAFT CHEESE] and other crap.

Like the ending to Hancock?

i didnt see that movie yet you insensitive clod!

Oops, my bad.

Re:Flag planting as proof of ownership or visitati (1)

blueturffan (867705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036844)

The original footprints from the astronauts are still there 50 years later.

Apollo 11 - July 1969

Apollo 17 - December 1972

Re:Flag planting as proof of ownership or visitati (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32037286)

The original footprints from the astronauts are still there 50 years later.

The thermal expansion and contraction of the top few feet of lunar regolith means the footprints would have lasted twenty years at most.

Re:Flag planting as proof of ownership or visitati (1)

Da Cheez (1069822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037694)

Flag planting by proxy? Will the robot then walk over to the U.S. flag and tear it down?

Who cares if they tear one down? There would still be 5 others... unless of course the Japanese send 6 flag-tearing robots to do the job.
Oblig: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYeFcSq7Mxg [youtube.com]

Call me naive... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036134)

Wouldn't the cost of returning the robot to earth far exceed the cost of simply building a new one? I thought the whole point of using automatons for exploration was that you could leave them there!

Re:Call me naive... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036200)

No, that would give the robots first claim at having settled all the good parts when they reach sentience.

Re:Call me naive... (2, Insightful)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036346)

Japan has an interesting facination with humanoid robots. Their ideal robot is essentially human, and treated as a human in all respects. This includes cost-inefficient recovery of the robot. The whole purpose of this proposed mission is to generate interest in humanoid robotics, so they want to show that a robot can do everything that a person can do. Sending it to the moon and back is just a glamorous way of doing this.

Re:Call me naive... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036588)

Once again, they are failing to meet the real needs of the people. The economic demand is for sexbots, not astrobots. People don't want a robot that "can do everything that a person can do". They want a robot that can do everything that a hooker can do.

Re:Call me naive... (1)

hldn (1085833) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036952)

They want a robot that can do everything that a hooker can do.

and everything that even a hooker won't do.

Re:Call me naive... (1)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036592)

didn't you see iRobot???? Robots have feelings too you know....

Re:Call me naive... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036626)

Sure, they have feelings: "Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to take you to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction, 'cause I don't!"

Re:Call me naive... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036942)

Wouldn't the cost of returning the robot to earth far exceed the cost of simply building a new one? I thought the whole point of using automatons for exploration was that you could leave them there!

SSSHHHHH! Ixnay on the eavinglay!

We're just telling the robot that it will be coming back so it'll get on the rocket. After all it saw what we did with the last ones [xkcd.com] .

Why? (1)

amazeofdeath (1102843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036138)

I'd guess that a two-legged Japanese person would be easier to develop.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036304)

You obviously don't have children.

Re:Why? (1)

amazeofdeath (1102843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036518)

KAMIKAZE! Worked fine earlier.

No more maths! (0, Troll)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036142)

I know that the Japanese like their linear algebra and all, but they need to get back to what they are good at: making Marios.

Re:No more maths! (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 4 years ago | (#32038136)

Bah. Bad delivery on that one. Ce la vie.

oh boy, brave new world (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036170)

Robots mean eventual construction, which means eventual colonization, which means eventual international conflict.

Hope the conflict part waits until I'm dead!

Another option? (0, Offtopic)

tys90 (1123511) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036176)

They should just send Arnold Schwarzenegger

Red Alert 3 (1)

JismTroll (588456) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036242)

The Japanese should send up a King Oni like in Red Alert 3 to draw the flag of the Empire!

something more useful (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036248)

Why don't they try doing something that'd be more useful like sending a robot capable of mining regolith, scrapping ice off of rocks and collecting it(if they find it), or at the very least capable of moving dirt around? IE do stuff that needs to be done if we want to live there.

Re:something more useful (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036528)

Probably for the same reason so many Americans want to send another astronaut to the moon, rather than send rovers and probes.

Asimo? (2, Interesting)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036256)

Couldn't they just Send an Asimo and a Solar array to charge it's batteries, maybe a "suit" to keep the dust off it's joints?

What a Waste! (3, Interesting)

TomRC (231027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036340)

... put a robot on the moon, then bring it home after drawing a flag.

Why not have the robot do something semi-constructive? Maybe set up a solar mirror capable of melting lunar rocks. Or set up a drill to see if there are more volatile elements deeper beneath the surface? Or at LEAST give it lots of equipment to play with, and turn it over to their brainiest kids to "experiment with", inspiring their next generation.

If they just want to demonstrate the capability to put a human on the moon and bring them home, have the robot load their return lander with moon rocks - at least that payload would have some value other than publicity, and the robot will have served a purpose.

Re:What a Waste! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32037180)

The point is likely publicity -- get more people interested in supporting further research.

Interesting as it may be, sending a robot up to melt rocks on the moon just isn't as exciting.

Re:What a Waste! (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037738)

Meh, I realize that is what Japan intends to do with this mission, but when million dollar projects are involved (or, at best, hundreds of thousands of dollar projects) I think publicity should come as a secondary benefit to doing something productive. Hell, even the initial Apollo missions, while they involved all sorts of fun publicity, returned various samples, tested new technologies, and found out if, indeed, the moon was made of cheese as we suspected. That's not to say that missions that bring about publicity and inspiration don't have their place. It just seems to me that they should at least attempt to return something else as well, even if that something else isn't particularly spectacular. As the OP said, having the robot pick up a rock and drop it into the return module would be a pretty trivial, but valuable, task to partake in while on this mission.

Re:What a Waste! (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037904)

The whole notion that space showmanship and manned space flight get kids excited and interested in science and engineering is way way overblown. I doubt that it has been the major stimulus for more than a tiny fraction of scientists and engineers. It is usually a wide variety of influences on minds that are already inclined towards rational thought, creativity, and understanding of the world that get people into those fields.

Seeing robots carry out useful, intelligently designed missions far away and being able to view detailed remote sensing would be just as exciting. Nobody cares if some bozo is up there being a human explorer. Nobody lives vicariously through them just as nobody gets excited that some stranger went on vacation to Hawaii. You get excited when you go to Hawaii, who cares about the other guy. If we were all able to view 3D video taken from various angles by robotic probes, it is the next best thing to being there ourselves. I personally don't give a rats ass that a bunch of Joe Schmos are up in the ISS jerking off, nor does it matter to me whether a robot is humanoid or has N legs. That is just silly, wasteful showmanship.

Re:What a Waste! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32037516)

I don't even think this qualifies as 'demonstrating the capability to put a human on the moon and bring them home', as you described it. (Well designed) robots don't have to breathe air, and can withstand a greater range of temperature, as well as other environmental conditions, such as being in a vacuum or being subjected to high G-forces. Let's face it, this task should be easier than sending actual humans to the moon.

Is today april fool's day for sifi-nerds? (1)

TheGodxxxx (1752138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036358)

I mean, first that mini-star generated by a giant laser and now this...

Famous words (1)

ultramarweeni (662813) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036390)

"This is a small step for an android, one giant leap for the robotkind"

General Motors Will Be Purchased By China by (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32036630)

2013.

General Motors is broke and Whitacre and Lutz both knew it before they flew the coop.

Cheers.

humanoid robots + visiting other plants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32036676)

Two pointless pursuits that can be pursued (pointlessly) together!

Baby Steps (2, Insightful)

LordBmore (1794002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036686)

How about we get a humanoid robot that can successfully walk up and down stairs on earth before we send that bad boy to the moon?

Re:Baby Steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32038042)

Asimo can do that.

I for one... (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036770)

...welcome our new asian-bred moon-based overlords.

Jet Jaguar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32036960)

If Japan's two legged robot is on the moon, Who will help Godzilla defeat Megalon?

How big will the flag be? (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036964)

I've seen Baseball games where they put up the Japanese sun(alternating lines emanating from center). Could Japan be planning on making the entire moon look like that eventually? Heh.

Huh? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#32036996)

Putting a humanoid robot on the moon is pretty cool... one could explore the lunar surface through a VR interface that could control the robot and we could learn a lot of things about the moon over a long period that we wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to learn, without having to leave the comfort of a planet that has a perfectly livable atmosphere.

However, going to the effort of bringing the robot back seems to me to be just a collossal waste of time and money. They could bring back stuff from the moon's surface without bringing back the robot itself -- it's not like the robot actually needs air to breathe or anything... just leave it there for permanent exploration.

Re:Huh? (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037654)

Makes sense because they can then examine it closely for issues/improvement for v1.1

Not to mention the funding they could raise by sending that thing on a tour!

Maybe the 4th or 5th one, they will leave up there.

Godzilla! (1)

Message (303377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037436)

If they would only make it look like Godzilla, I think they could get the whole thing funded by donations... where is the paypal button!

really drawing the japanese flag? (1)

nycguy (892403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037450)

Why not get Sanrio Corp to fund the mission and have it draw a Hello Kitty? Why not have the android look like Hello Kitty? If you've ever been to Japan and seen the Hello Kitty dildos, toilet seat covers, etc., you'll understand why this isn't entirely unlikely.

Why!? It's obvious! (1)

SickLittleMonkey (135315) | more than 4 years ago | (#32037592)

(1) Robot
(2) Moonwalk
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