June 22, 2015: Seems like robots are on the rise everywhere these days, with experts predicting that they might replace one third of the workforce in two or three decades.
NASA too experimented with robot technology by sending ‘Robonaut 2’, a humanoid robot onto the International Space Station. It has become the first robot inside a human space vehicle operating without a cage and first to work with human-rated tools in space.
NASA’s Robonaut programme goes all the way back to 1997, when scientists believed they would be able to test a robot in space by 2005. Their dream was realised in 2011, when Robonaut 2 joined the crew bound for the ISS. Astronauts on the ISS have been testing how the Robonaut performs in minimal gravity.
Robonaut 2 was chosen as the NASA Government Invention of the Year for 2014.
It was selected after a challenging review by the NASA selection committee that evaluated the robot in the areas of Aerospace Significance, Industry Significance, Humanitarian Significance, Technology Readiness Level, NASA Use, Industry Use and Creativity.
Astronauts are testing to see if Robonaut 2 — which looks like a cross between C-3PO and the Michelin Man — could be used to perform medical tasks in space, guided by doctors on the Earth, Quartz reported.
The Robonaut – which can apparently even take selfies – was built by NASA and General Motors to perform tasks on the space station, and even in the automotive industry on the ground.