NASA’s newest addition to the International Space Station, the Robonaut, or R2, is an exciting step forward in human-robot collaboration. Measuring 7 feet tall and weighing in at around 330 pounds, R2 has been designed with human hands and feet, arms and legs, and sensors in his face and torso (Gerst 242). In other words, this humanoid robot isn’t too different from us! But what makes R2 so unique? Learn more about NASA’s latest project by reading this article on the future of human-robot collaboration…
What is Robonaut?
Robonaut is a human-like robot designed for living and working in space. Robonauts were originally conceived as astronauts’ helpers, but they were used primarily as expensive targets during target practice. Luckily, budget cuts mean that we’ll be seeing more robots like Robonaut in space soon. In fact, NASA is planning to send a crew of six humanoid robots into space as early as 2015.
Why We Need Robots
We’ve made enormous advances in robotics over the past several decades, but we still have a long way to go. One important direction is to build machines that are capable of collaborating with humans in extreme environments. We have developed autonomous robots capable of moving around on land and in water; we’ve even sent them into space. Now it’s time to focus on human-robot collaboration, especially when things get dangerous. Luckily, there are several exciting projects underway now. The International Space Station features two humanoid robots from Japan called R2 and Kirobo, which will work alongside their human colleagues for at least three years beginning in 2015.
How Can I Work With A Robot?
If you’re picturing a humanoid robot with arms and legs, let’s just put that idea to rest right now. At present, they’re not ready for us to be hanging out together in close quarters. Some prototypes do exist – such as Robonaut 2 on board the International Space Station (ISS) – but these versions are nothing more than robotic exoskeletons. That said, there is hope. Inventors and developers are hard at work developing next-generation robots capable of not only interacting with humans but performing actual jobs alongside them as well. These new creations will most likely be smaller, lighter, faster and smarter than their predecessors. They may even feature soft skin that can detect pressure and temperature changes so they can respond accordingly.
Applications and Limitations
Robonauts could eventually be used in almost any industry that requires detailed, delicate work—from aerospace to surgery. For now, though, they’re limited to carefully controlled environments such as NASA. While robots already have a place in factories, on assembly lines and even on farms, for example, their functionality and movements are still limited by their surroundings. This is where human-robot collaboration comes into play. When you need something built or repaired outside of a factory or workshop — anywhere from an oil rig to a space station — having both humans and robots working together ensures safety while saving time and money. Robonauts also offer benefits beyond manual labor; they can be used to simulate extreme situations so humans can practice dealing with difficult problems before doing it for real.
Pros of Using Robots
Robots have a number of important advantages for humans. They can work longer and harder, day after day, in environments that are too extreme or hazardous for people. Robots can also lift objects that are too heavy for humans to handle; they can move more quickly and precisely than human limbs allow; and they possess superhuman senses — vision, hearing, and touch — that enable them to perform dangerous tasks in places where it would be unsafe or impractical for people to go. Indeed, robots may help us meet some of all our needs in ways we cannot even imagine today. At one time these machines were thought only useful as devices that could replicate movements previously performed by people, but research is showing how effective robots have become at performing tasks which require human cognition as well as physical ability. One other important thing to note is that using robots can help you to complete tasks more quickly, so you’ll be able to get more work done in less time.
Cons of Using Robots
Despite potential benefits, it’s not all roses and sunshine when it comes to incorporating robotics into everyday life. In fact, some believe that people may begin to fear robots, which is a problem because they’ll need to accept them in order for robot usage to become more widespread. So, what will cause these negative feelings? For starters, our current technologies aren’t as intelligent as we would like them to be.
Robots and The Future
Robots have been a part of sci-fi for years, but in recent years they’ve moved into real life. Robots play a key role in space exploration, manufacturing, and other fields that can be hazardous to humans. Though they are great at performing tedious tasks or working in environments too dangerous for people to operate in, we need to figure out how best to use them effectively while keeping people out of harm’s way. A project called Robonaut hopes to do just that by combining state-of-the-art robotics with human collaboration. Join us as we look at what makes Robonaut different from past human/robot collaborations and what it could mean for space travel (and beyond).
Robots are rapidly changing how we work. Their use in factories, for instance, has allowed manufacturers to increase production without having to hire more workers. But robots have been slow to infiltrate offices—that is, until now. In late 2014, President Obama signed a bill that allows NASA to loan its humanoid robot R2 to companies and universities for commercial purposes. R2 will become available as a robot assistant on your desk or on your warehouse floor. This technology has huge implications for businesses because it could help increase productivity while also reducing expenses related to salary and benefits packages by replacing human workers with robots.