New legs give Robonaut 2 freedom to roam space station

NASA engineers are developing climbing legs for the International Space Station’s robotic crewmember Robonaut 2 (R2).

The legless R2, currently attached to a support post, is undergoing experimental trials with astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory. Since its arrival at the station in February 2011, R2 has performed a series of tasks to demonstrate its functionality in microgravity.

The new legs, funded by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations and Space Technology mission directorates, will provide R2 the mobility it needs to help with routine repetitive tasks inside and outside the space station. This will give crew members more time to perform critical work, including scientific research.

’NASA has explored with robots for more than a decade, from the stalwart rovers on Mars to R2 on the station,’ said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology in Washington. ’Our investment in robotic technology development is helping us to bolster productivity by applying robotics technology and devices to fortify and enhance individual human capabilities, performance and safety in space.’

Once the legs are attached to the R2 torso, the robot will have a fully extended leg span of nine feet (3m), giving it flexibility for movement around the space station.

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December 12, 2013



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