We Have to Crawl before We Can Fly
The robots are coming and they’re more alive and kicking than ever. Whether it’s the adorable Fembot with the beautiful voice, or the egg-shaped English teacher they’ve arrived to become an integrate part of our daily lives. And what’s even better they evolved from the clunky mechanical looking machines into awesome humanoids. Take for example NASA’s latest action hero, Robonaut 2. This must be the most handsome Robo-dude ever built. I mean look at this guy. He’s straight from Star Wars.
According to NASA Robonaut 2 is called on active duty at the International Space Station and is primed and ready for launch aboard space shuttle Discovery this month. R2 is so ready, in fact, that it’s going up ahead of its legs, which will follow on a later launch. The legs aren’t ready yet. NASA is still testing them, but — as NASA promises — when the legs are ready R2 will be an expert “no hands spiderman”. w00t!
The legs are a little disappointing to be honest. Not the spiderman stuff; that’s awesome, but the ‘head first legs later’ part. I mean you can’t send Robonaut legless into space and why are the legs so difficult?. Besides, I would love to see Robonaut walking on the platform toward the Discovery, climb the stairs and wave to the crowd right before the shuttle takes off. That would be historic, AND sell millions of action hero figures too.
But it’s too soon for such history-making. Robonaut 2 may look like he’s ready to conquer planets and domesticate aliens, but he’s certainly not. R2 has much to learn. In fact so much that his first duties aboard the ISS will be performing cleaning tasks – that will piss him off – and attending classes where human astronauts teach him how to climb, which buttons to push [PIXAR astronaut academy link] and what to avoid, before he’ll earn his wings and can be sent outside for space walks or to command Away Teams.
Nevertheless NASA did an outstanding job building the most impressive robot I’ve seen so far.
And remember when NASA is done playing with their toys they always pass them on to us mortals. So be ready for your Robonaut cleaning dude, or dog whisperer to come to your neighborhood soon. Or at your bedroom window given the ‘no hands spiderman’ promise.
Btw Robonaut 2 also uses Twitter for iPhone. To follow his stream go here.
More pictures at Flickr