NASA engineers have made further progression in developing their robotic scarecrow into a robotic human. Their robot R2, is currently attached to a support post. However, climbing legs are the new addition to the project, and the robotic crewmember is undergoing trials to provide it with mobility like a real human being.
Since its arrival in 2011, R2 has performed multiple tasks to demonstrate its functionality in microgravity. By providing the robot with legs, NASA engineers are enabling their scarecrow-like robot to become human, and have all the mobility it needs in order to help the team carry out tasks, inside and outside of the space station. This way, more employees will be free to execute more crucial work like scientific research.
NASA, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Agency, has frequently used robots to aid investigations, and their investment in developing robotic technology is helping to boost productivity. This way, robots will will be able to encompass human capabilities, performance, and safety, when sent up to space.
To enable robots to interact with their surroundings, NASA use cameras to help them see, as well as other sensors to enable the robots to measure their environments. Based on these measurements, the robots control themselves with algorithms also developed by their research teams. They capture the control-and-sensor-processing software in unifying frameworks, which enables reuse and transfers among other projects. In the course of developing this technology, NASA engineers build real end-to-end systems as well as high-fidelity simulations of how robots will work on the worlds they plan to visit.
Once the legs have been successfully connected to the torso of R2, the robot will have a leg span of 9 feet. It will have immense flexibility in its movement around the space station, and it will also be able to have full access to handrails and sockets inside and outside the station. Each leg will contain seven joints, and a device on the so-called feet called an “end effector.” A vision system for these effectors will also be implemented, in order to verify, and eventually automate, each limb’s advancement and grasp.
By doing this, NASA are developing steps to turn their robotic scarecrow into a robotic human. Engineers have already manufactured the legs, and will be attaching them to R2 next year. This is because the complexity of the legs means that R2’s upper body has to be upgraded so that both can work when outside the space station.
The new developments in robotic technology made by NASA have led to new robotic devices that correlate with Earth. For example, NASA is also constructing a robotic exoskeleton. This could potentially keep astronauts healthy in space, and also assist people in every day life who suffer with physical disabilities.
NASA is responsible for all the United States civilian space programs, and aeronautics and aerospace research. As well as exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with sophisticated robotic missions, it concentrates upon increasing knowledge of the Earth, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, and also researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories and associated programs.
As NASA engineers further their progression in developing their robotic scarecrow into a fully mobile human, who is to know where robotic technology will end.
By Melissa McDonald