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October 11, 2010

A human-like robot is about to make its first trip into outer space.


Robonaut’s big trip…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

This November, a human-like robotic astronaut will make its first trip into outer space. It’s called Robonaut, and Philip Strawser of the NASA-Johnson Space Center is in charge of its software. Strawser says the Robonaut will help human astronauts on the International Space Station with a variety of jobs.

PHILIP STRAWSER (NASA-Johnson Space Center):
And as opposed to industrial robots, which have to have very specialized tools, we want to be able to leverage using the same tools; that way, we don’t have to take as many tools up, we can have the robot help the astronaut help the astronaut by handing tools, or maybe even do some of those tasks by itself.

The current version has a head, arms, and torso, and will be bolted to the floor. Strawser’s team plans to eventually create interchangeable bases for different settings, and to make it work outside in space, so it can do things like exterior repairs. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.