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Robonaut To Escort On Space Shuttle Mission

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the goodness-gracious-me dept.

NASA 74

An anonymous reader writes "The STS-133 crew will deliver robot Robonaut 2 (R2) to the International Space Station. Cocooned inside an aluminum frame and foam blocks cut out to its shape, R2 is heading to the station inside the Permanent Multipurpose Module in space shuttle Discovery's payload bay. R2, with its humanlike hands and arms and stereo vision, is expected to perform some of the repetitive or more mundane functions inside the orbiting laboratory to free astronauts for more complicated tasks and experiments."

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R2D2? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33229768)

R2.. is that you?

Re:R2D2? (2, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 4 years ago | (#33230830)

No, it's obviously Marvin.

R2 ... is expected to perform some of the repetitive or more mundane functions inside the orbiting laboratory

Here I am, brain the size of a planet ....

Re:R2D2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33236424)

It's a mobile version of HAL.

Re:R2D2? (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 4 years ago | (#33237374)

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to get of my lawn.

R2-D2 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33229772)

If you added a 'D2' onto the name, you'd have R2-D2. There, I said it. Now nobody else can make lame puns.

Re:R2-D2 (5, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33229800)

Nope, that would be R2+D2, what you meant is subtract it, sheesh, news for nerds.

Re:R2-D2 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33230398)

If you added a 'D2' onto the name, you'd have R2-D2. There, I said it. Now nobody else can make lame puns.

Nope, that would be R2+D2, what you meant is subtract it, sheesh, news for nerds.

AC was proven wrong yet again!

Re:R2-D2 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33229974)

I really hope that there is somthing like a "Device 2" on that robot... so that it can be shortened R2-D2

Oh dear. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33229822)

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that...

"Bite my shiny metal ass" (3, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 4 years ago | (#33229828)

Just as long as they don't start staffing their shuttles with bending units!

Re:"Bite my shiny metal ass" (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 4 years ago | (#33230018)

I think the flaming belches would probably be enough to keep Bender off the ISS.
The lack of alcohol is of course what keeps me off the ISS.

Hey my sig is on topic. :)

Re:"Bite my shiny metal ass" (1)

Kepesk (1093871) | about 4 years ago | (#33230024)

No, they would need to take up Bender's cousin, Floater.

about fucking time (1)

snookerhog (1835110) | about 4 years ago | (#33229846)

seriously, why are humans (who need food, rest, air, copious exercise and a million dollar toilet) still our primary means of getting work done in space?

Re:about fucking time (4, Insightful)

ceejayoz (567949) | about 4 years ago | (#33229940)

Because robotic teleoperation, while handy, is far from perfect?

Re:about fucking time (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 4 years ago | (#33230370)

But, as this article shows, is getting better all the time. I'm not saying manned spaceflight shouldn't occur. But think about the cost benefits of having people using telerobotics to do on-orbit assembly in 3 shifts with multiple on-the-ground controllers. At that point, you're only limited on construction by a) how fast you can get new pieces into orbit to bolt together and b) power consumption of the telerobotics systems. Seems to work fairly well for UAV drivers out of Las Vegas.

Re:about fucking time (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33230494)

Should be fun on the Moon - it's just close enough to at least try teleoperation. I hope any future efforts will put a live stream on the web...

Re:about fucking time (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 4 years ago | (#33230566)

Agreed. Unfortunately, anything past that is going to be worthless. Benefit? Fully autonomous systems are going to get built extremely well.

Re:about fucking time (2, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | about 4 years ago | (#33234336)

Agreed. Unfortunately, anything past that is going to be worthless. Benefit? Fully autonomous systems are going to get built extremely well.

Heh, and we get to the point about having humans in the mix. No need to develop fully autonomous systems (especially, if you didn't want the system to be fully autonomous), when we already have fully autonomous systems that we use every day and trust.

Re:about fucking time (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33352106)

...mostly teleoperating (when it's needed) a mostly autonomous fleet of robots nearby.

Re:about fucking time (2, Informative)

kurokame (1764228) | about 4 years ago | (#33231450)

There's a hard limit though. The light barrier.

To some extent, you can design around this. Have it be human-directed semi-automatic operation instead of strict teleoperation. This is probably good enough for orbit. Possibly good enough for lunar. But beyond that...zip. Too much latency. Eight minutes of latency per astronomical unit of distance, period, no compromises.

Re:about fucking time (4, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33230048)

WTF are you talking about? Have you ever looked at the vast number of unmanned spacecraft doing work for us right now? Ever noticed how many were launched & operational even before Vostok 1?

It is really hilarious - those claiming we don't need "inspiring" manned programmes...completelly taken by them themselves, apparently, to the point of not noticing how humans are not, and never were "our primary means of getting work done in space"

Re:about fucking time (2, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 4 years ago | (#33230382)

Voyager 1 and 2 are still collecting data, 48 years later. Until a human can subsist on heat and power from an RTG unit alone, at the edges of the solar system, robotics are still going to be doing the heavy lifting. Us meatbags are fairly high maintenance =(

http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/weekly-reports/index.htm [nasa.gov]

Re:about fucking time (2, Informative)

StupendousMan (69768) | about 4 years ago | (#33233528)

The Voyagers were launched in 1977 (I remember the hoopla), so that makes their current age around 33 years. They are wonderful devices, but they can't warp time :-/

Re:about fucking time (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | about 4 years ago | (#33234326)

They are wonderful devices, but they can't warp time :-/

Yet. They can't warp time yet.

Re:about fucking time (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33352080)

Well, their clock does tick slightly slower...

Re:about fucking time (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 years ago | (#33230174)

Because people want to be there.

besides there are a LOT of other things my taxes go to that I really don't want to pay for. Sending people into space is just a good idea. as it improves our knowledge on how to do so. So if were survive long enough and need to escape earth we can and possible settle someone else.

If we don't wast time and money on humans in space the knowledge will go away. Just think if we were to go to the moon again we need to rethink everything again because we havn't been there in 40 years. And we have forgotten how to.

Re:about fucking time (2, Insightful)

shadowmage36 (840208) | about 4 years ago | (#33230476)

Agreed. Heinlein said it best:

"I now define 'moral behavior' as 'behavior that tends toward survival.' I won't argue with philosophers or theologians who choose to use the word 'moral' to mean something else, but I do not think anyone can define "behavior that tends toward extinction" as being 'moral' without stretching the word 'moral' all out of shape.

Selfishness is the bedrock on which all moral behavior starts and it can be immoral only when it conflicts with a higher moral imperative. An animal so poor in spirit that he won't even fight on his own behalf is already an evolutionary dead end; the best he can do for his breed is to crawl off and die, and not pass on his defective genes.

The next higher level is to work, fight, and sometimes die for your own immediate family. This is the level at which six pounds of mother cat can be so fierce that she'll drive off a police dog. It is the level at which a father takes a moonlighting job to keep his kids in college -- and the level at which a mother or father dives into a flood to save a drowning child ... and it is still moral behavior even when it fails.
br> Evolution is a process that never stops. Baboons who fail to exhibit moral behavior do not survive; they wind up as meat for leopards.

The next level in moral behavior higher than that exhibited by the baboon is that in which duty and loyalty are shown toward a group of your own kind too large for an individual to know all of them. We have a name for that. It is called 'patriotism.' Behaving on a still higher moral level were the astronauts who went to the Moon, for their actions tend toward the survival of the entire race of mankind.

Many short-sighted fools think that going to the Moon was just a stunt. But the astronauts knew the meaning of what they were doing, as is shown by Neil Armstrong's first words in stepping down onto the soil of Luna: 'One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.'"

Re:about fucking time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33230182)

Because "it's not just a job, it's an adventure".

Re:about fucking time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33230630)

Because it drives the "travel" part of space travel...

Re:about fucking time (1)

PagosaSam (884523) | about 4 years ago | (#33231080)

Who else is going to fix all the damn robots?

Re:about fucking time (1)

BisexualPuppy (914772) | about 4 years ago | (#33231192)

"seriously, why are humans (who need food, rest, air, copious exercise and a million dollar toilet) still our primary means of getting work done in spac" Because we are, erm, humans ? You know, the vast vast vast majority of the rockets we launch aren't manned. So you are basically asking for stopping sending men in space, at all ? Or ?

Arnie, is that you? (0)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 4 years ago | (#33229872)

R2 looks like the upper torso of a sculpted bodybuilder...

I'll be back. Fuck you asshole. Hasta la vista, baby.

Re:Arnie, is that you? (1)

snookerhog (1835110) | about 4 years ago | (#33229920)

perhaps you meant: Dave: Open the pod bay door R2 R2: Fuck you asshole

Re:Arnie, is that you? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | about 4 years ago | (#33229934)

I'm thinking "no". Have you seen pictures of Arnie recently?

More like "In the flab on my back, you could say hasta la vista to a baby, or maybe a full-grown man."

Hmmm... (3, Funny)

Last_Available_Usern (756093) | about 4 years ago | (#33229874)

Does it have a giant red LED and talk in a very calm, soothing voice?

Re:Hmmm... (3, Funny)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 4 years ago | (#33230038)

No. But it does have a red light that moves from side to side, and it says "By your command." a lot.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33264284)

Does it have a giant red LED and talk in a very calm, soothing voice?

Actually "it" had several panels with a small LED with a BIG fish-eye lens.

Robotic enslavement (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | about 4 years ago | (#33229904)

R2, with its humanlike hands and arms and stereo vision, is expected to perform some of the repetitive or more mundane functions inside the orbiting laboratory...

The PETR activists are gonna have a field day with this one...

Re:Robotic enslavement (2, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | about 4 years ago | (#33230008)

The PETR activists are gonna have a field day with this one...

I don't think robots are all that tasty.

Re:Robotic enslavement (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33230224)

The PETR activists are gonna have a field day with this one...

I don't think robots are all that tasty.

L. Ron Hoover [killuglyradio.com] from the Church of Appliantology [killuglyradio.com] would agree.

the best thing about this new crewmate... (2, Insightful)

spongman (182339) | about 4 years ago | (#33229916)

... he doesn't fart.

Re:the best thing about this new crewmate... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 4 years ago | (#33230760)

I'm not sure he would never emit odors, though. Probably smells like wiring and ozone all the time...

Sorry Dave (0, Redundant)

BenOliver21 (1877246) | about 4 years ago | (#33229978)

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

In before LucasFilms (1)

kindbud (90044) | about 4 years ago | (#33229998)

In before LucasFilm sues their asses off.

And from the looks of the thing, Bungie/Microsoft may want to take a shot, too.

Re:In before LucasFilms (1)

cf18 (943501) | about 4 years ago | (#33230338)

Samus's suit from Metroid is a closer match.

It tweets. (3, Informative)

davev2.0 (1873518) | about 4 years ago | (#33230000)

You can follow its adventures on twitter: @AstroRobonaut [twitter.com]

A robotic escort... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33230022)

For those cold, lonely nights on the ISS.

R2 has hands? (4, Funny)

DrugCheese (266151) | about 4 years ago | (#33230026)

Next they'll ruin R2 by making him fly with tiny rockets.

Nice photo (3, Informative)

toxonix (1793960) | about 4 years ago | (#33230044)

With all the power of the internets, the article can't give us more than a thumbnail of this robot. You want some real robot pron, go to engadget: http://www.engadget.com/photos/nasa-and-gms-robonaut2/2677799/#2677802 [engadget.com]

The gold visored helmet. WANT

Pumping IRON: http://www.engadget.com/photos/nasa-and-gms-robonaut2/2677799/#2677804 [engadget.com]

Re:Nice photo (2, Informative)

rvw (755107) | about 4 years ago | (#33230142)

With all the power of the internets, the article can't give us more than a thumbnail of this robot.
You want some real robot pron, go to engadget:
http://www.engadget.com/photos/nasa-and-gms-robonaut2/2677799/#2677802 [engadget.com]

When I open that page, it disappears in a second, so here's the direct url to the picture:

Robonaut 2 [blogcdn.com]

Re:Nice photo (1)

toxonix (1793960) | about 4 years ago | (#33230350)

Thanks. Engadget is such a POS site. I will not link to it again.

oh crap! (1)

sweatyboatman (457800) | about 4 years ago | (#33230840)

that robot has a gun! we're totally screwed!

Re:oh crap! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 years ago | (#33234092)

that robot has a gun! we're totally screwed!

Is it a Point of View gun? If so I agree.

Re:Nice photo (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about 4 years ago | (#33236924)

"The gold visored helmet. WANT "

Visor? How about some fucking legs?

I can just see this thing dragging itself around the space station like some half-dead detritus of interstellar war, smoke and ozone wafting from the shattered remains of its lower torso....Groan!!!..Must reach repair module....energy reserves critical....bzzzt! Need...legs. Groan...Zap!

Oh. Right. No gravity.

Neat gun though!

Zap!...must reach self-destruct sequence activator...Fzzzt! Legs...destroyed...all...is...Zzzzzt! Zap!...lost!...Ssssss..

Re:Nice photo (1)

toxonix (1793960) | about 4 years ago | (#33241810)

I want the helmet for driving around town. Like the Stig, but gold.

Some lucky Cosmonaut will end up wearing this robot as a backpack. "Hey, Ivan, turn around! I can't see anything!"

Could it be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33230072)

Bishop?

Re:Could it be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33230890)

I prefer the term "Artificial Person" myself.

It is a banner Day (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 4 years ago | (#33230118)

Today we not only have touchy-feely user interfaces, we also have escort service to the International Space Station

R2 Job Description (0)

bl8n8r (649187) | about 4 years ago | (#33230222)

Immediate (FTO) NASA - Space Station Droid
Must be able to perform repetivite, mundane tasks while freeing humans to do more complicated tasks.
Droid must be:
- capable of surviving in-space jettisons
- able to store/deliver distress messages
- provide and manage combat and technical information in high-stress situations (eg: raids, combat)
- able to rescue and repair C-3P0 units
- capable of overriding security systems (in-depth knowledge of Vader Death Systems LLC a plus)
- able to maintain and troubleshoot Falcon Inc. systems (esp. Hyperdrive apparati)

Wouldn't it be better outside? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33230298)

... repetitive or more mundane functions inside the orbiting laboratory...

As a layman, I'd think the more troublesome tasks on the ISS involved the hassle of getting into an EVA suit for activities outside the space station. In which case the bulky pressure suit and heavy gloves are likely to give an astronaut no better manual dexterity than what could be provided by a robotic waldo. So wouldn't it be smarter to have the robot on an armature external to the station? Or is this just considered a testing phase to make sure that such robot is reliable and flexible enough before putting it on the more appropriate outside work duty?

And whatever happened to the Boba-Fett look of the previous prototype? I thought that was cool.

Robonauts on Moon By 2013 (1)

King Coopa (1374689) | about 4 years ago | (#33230344)

I saw an article on Boing Boing about a month ago telling about this guy being sent to the moon in 2013 with Armadillo Aerospace providing the lander. I was surprised I never saw anything on /. covering the clip.

http://boingboing.net/2010/07/08/nasa-robonauts-on-mo.html [boingboing.net]

It's cool and all... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 4 years ago | (#33230778)

It's cool and all, but did they seriously need to gold plate the thing?

I love this stuff (5, Interesting)

DomHawken (1335311) | about 4 years ago | (#33230858)

As an oldish (40+) programmer who's only recently got into robotics (the simple stuff - arduino, sparkfun, xbee, khr3-hv), coding the control software to make a robot actually do stuff is way more challenging than the supposedly complex projects I work at on my day job. Programming a robot kit to walk or pull poses is simple enough, but coding 'any form of 'intelligent' decision making ends up with lines and lines of code and as many sensors you can sensibly add to the hardware.

I thought it would be pretty simple to build and code a robot cleaner - like a basic remote control car that just drives around the house with a duster underneath which heads back home when the batteries are running low and recharges. Clearly the challenge of climbing the stairs can move to the version 2 release, but if I stick it on the first floor, just stopping it falling down the stairs needs around five sensors and over 500 lines of code.

Two cameras for 3D spatial awareness? Try coding it to tell the difference between and apple and an orange. Built in GPS to get an absolute position reference? Even if you get a signal, 5 meter accuracy doesn't help much when you are driving it towards a lift shaft.

That's why I love this stuff.

not a robot (4, Informative)

FalseModesty (166253) | about 4 years ago | (#33230892)

It's a Waldo, not a robot.

Re:not a robot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33234042)

About time someone pointed that out.

Re:not a robot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33234748)

Where's Waldo? On the ISS, of course.

I wonder if they'll have a space-themed "Waldo" book in the future.

This ain't R2.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33231292)

...it's C3PO.

Let's name it HAL, it's 2010 already for REAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33231414)

And we're going to dodge Arthur C Clarke's prediction of disaster on this mission by doing the EXACT opposite. When the Robonaut asks, Open the payload bay doors, WE get to say "No, that is soooo not going to happen. We know exactly what you're up to."

Space robots (2, Funny)

captain_dope_pants (842414) | about 4 years ago | (#33232406)

For God's sake not a single "robotic overlord" post yet ? It's a fucking ROBOT. IN SPACE !!11!one =P

holy crap (1)

binarybum (468664) | about 4 years ago | (#33234880)

i had a bad feeling when i read the summary, but when I saw the picture of the thing it became very clear what is going to happen. I've seen enough sci-fi to know that thing is definitely going to turn on the crew when it gets up there. It will probably sample everyone's voices and for years it will provide radio communication and no one will realize that astronaut and cosmonaut corpses are circling the earth. Then it will watch from above as it figures out ways to manipulate government intelligence and pits America against the former USSR until both countries are annihilated.

Robonaut To Escort On Space Shuttle Mission (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | about 4 years ago | (#33234988)

Now that's an expensive escort service...

what could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33235614)

This sounds like the plot for a cheesy sci-fi/horror movie. OH GOD IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO DO THAT!!

"more" experiments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33236728)

> to free astronauts for more complicated tasks
> and experiments

I look forward to even lusher crops of cress grown on flannels.

When the "success" of the ISS is quoted in terms of the number of EVAs completed in 11 years just to keep the station operational, one suspects that cress is the pinnacle of its scientific contribution.

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