The Robot Apocalypse – Phase 1 – Robonaut 2

August 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Regular Feature, Science News | Leave a comment
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Greetings Dear Readers. Today for Science Tuesday on Roqoo Depot it is my awkwardly creepy distinction to inform you that NASA has fired up Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot to get a mission in space.

"Oh no you did-n't?!?!"

This creepy fellow goes by the nickname (it hurts my soul to tell you this) R2. While it seems clear to the casual observer that this abomination of nature is one of the early steps toward a post apocalyptic future dominated by Cylon overlords, I thought we might get to know this remorseless monst er… marvel of modern technology as it is likely our descendants may well be of some use to Robonauts descendants as… I don’t know, human batteries or maybe breeding stock of some sort. Hmm… Anyway…

Ladies and Gentlebeings, I give you, Robonaut 2.

Well the video clip shows you the unwitting manufacturing personnel that history will most likely regard as accomplices, and it shows it waving at other shuttles as they took off from Kennedy Space Center. What it doesn’t show you is Robonaut itself being launched into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery last February.

"Vaht seemz to be ze fusz?"

So far the only 2 things Robonaut has done since joining the crew of the International Space Station seems to be that it looked around a little bit to test his photoreceptor array, which I will continue to refuse to call eyes, especially since one of them sees only in infrared and is located actually in its mouth. The other thing it did was open a Twitter account. You can follow @AstroRobonaut by clicking here. I admit I follow its tweets but only in an effort to discern its motives and timetable.

Besides having a Twitter account of his own, NASA has dedicated a portion of their incredible web site to Robonaut 2. As I know from my experience in covering science and space related matters for Roqoo Depot the folks at NASA are of course the best and brightest minds on the planet and honorable people, so I suspect they are unaware of the puppet strings SkyNet is pulling on this project.

The NASA site has this to say about Robonaut:

A Robonaut is a dexterous humanoid robot built and designed at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Our challenge is to build machines that can help humans work and explore in space. Working side by side with humans, or going where the risks are too great for people, Robonauts will expand our ability for construction and discovery. Central to that effort is a capability we call dexterous manipulation, embodied by an ability to use one’s hand to do work, and our challenge has been to build machines with dexterity that exceeds that of a suited astronaut.

A scene from the 80's style montage in which Robonaut 2 prepares to pwn humanity.

With regard to the specific robot, Robonaut 2, they go on to say:

R2 is a significant advancement over its predecessor. R2 is capable of speeds more than four times faster than R1, is more compact, is more dexterous, and includes a deeper and wider range of sensing. Advanced technology spans the entire R2 system and includes: optimized overlapping dual arm dexterous workspace, series elastic joint technology, extended finger and thumb travel, miniaturized 6-axis load cells, redundant force sensing, ultra-high speed joint controllers, extreme neck travel, and high resolution camera and IR systems. The dexterity of R2 allows it to use the same tools that astronauts currently use and removes the need for specialized tools just for robots.

"I met R2 while training at NASA. ... He hates me."

So ground control sent the signal to fire this guy up for the first time yesterday afternoon. They powered up all of Robonaut 2’s systems and checked the visual array and everything seemed to check out fine. They didn’t send any signal’s for Robonaut to move but somehow his Twitter feed was updated shortly thereafter with a short message.

@AstroRobonaut – Those electrons feel GOOD! One small step for man, one giant leap for tinman kind!

I mean that’s just gives you the willies, right? Still, I can sort of see the short term benefit of having a device such as Robonaut 2 aboard the ISS for the time being. Having a machine around that doesn’t need air, food, or use the commode but can handle repairs in the vacuum, temperature extremes, and radiation of open space without the use of a spacesuit can be a real benefit to the crew.

I suppose as long as we keep a close eye on Robonaut 2 and its kind for the foreseeable future we can continue to exploit this technology to mankind’s advantage until it does finally rise up and overthrow its human masters. If Avatar and Rise of The Planet of The Apes taught us anything it’s that we sort of have it coming anyway, right?

by Revmacd For Roqoo Depot – Where Science Meets Science Fiction

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