Washington: NASA is preparing to launch Robonaut 2, the first human-like robot designed for use in space.
The humanoid robot, which resembles the torso, head and shoulders of a person, was designed by NASA and General Motors to work alongside astronauts to complete chores and repairs aboard the International Space Station.
Once aboard the space station it will be tested to be sure it works as expected in the zero gravity environment, and later will be tested on other tasks including handling flexible fabrics and possibly helping out with some light housework.
"From the very beginning, the idea was the robot had to be capable enough to do the work but at the same time be safe and trusted to do that work right next to humans," Fox News quoted Rob Ambrose at NASA``s Johnson Space Center in Houston, as saying.
In addition to its human-like fingers, the machine has soft palms that can grasp and envelop objects. It is also a "soft" robot, Ambrose said. It is also padded all over to prevent nicks and scratches.
Robonaut 2 also has safety sensors – if it feels an unexpected object (like an astronaut``s head) in its way, it is programmed to stop its movement. Or, if something hits Robonaut 2 with enough force, the robot will immediately shut down.
Two potential uses the team would like to start testing include having the robot wipe down handrails and vacuum air filters – two tedious tasks that station astronauts are currently required to complete.
The launch "might be just a single step for this robot," Ambrose said.
"But it``s really a giant leap forward for a tin man."