Robonaut 2

A robot astronaut torso with a gold helmet head, and a soft, white body. It holds one hand up to its head in salute.
Robonaut is ready to deploy. Photo: Joseph Bibby/NASA

Robonaut 2 is a humanoid sent to the International Space Station to help astronauts with various tasks. It can grasp objects, flip switches, and high-five crew members after successfully performing tasks.

Creators

NASA Johnson Space Center and GM

Year
2010
Country
United States 🇺🇸
Categories
Features
A robot astronaut torso with a gold helmeted head spins while flexing it's arms.
Interactive
Robonaut shows off its muscles. Photos: Adam Voorhes

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Overall Rating

Average Rating: 4.1 stars (3,183 ratings)

Current Ranking: #93 top rated

Would you want this robot?

75% said yes (3,223 ratings)

Current Ranking: #115 most wanted

Appearance

Neutral

Most rated "Somewhat Friendly" (8,003 ratings)

Current Ranking: #147 creepiest

Did you know?

In May 2018, after seven years in orbit, Robonaut returned to Earth for repairs. NASA says it may go back to space, once fixed.

Robonaut shakes hands with an astronaut.
Robonaut, meet astronaut. Photo: Robert Markowitz/NASA
The robotic torso and arms is affixed to the side of a four wheeled rover vehicle.
Robonaut rides in style on his Centaur 2 vehicle. Photo: Joseph Bibby/NASA
How Robonaut's arms work. Video: IEEE Spectrum

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History

The Robonaut project began in 1997 with the goal of developing a humanoid robot that could assist astronauts with a variety of manipulation tasks. The result was R1, a prototype robot that could perform maintenance tasks or be mounted on a set of wheels, designed by the Robot Systems Technology Branch at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in a collaborative effort with DARPA. In 2007, NASA JSC and General Motors teamed up to develop a next-generation Robonaut. R2 was unveiled in 2010, and NASA mission managers were so impressed that they decided to make room on a shuttle mission and send the robot to the International Space Station (ISS). R2 was carried to the ISS aboard space shuttle Discovery in February 2011. The goal was exploring how dexterous robots would behave in space, and determining what upgrades were needed to allow Robonaut to take over tasks too dangerous or repetitive for astronauts, hoping it would one day be able to venture outside the station to help spacewalkers make repairs and perform scientific work. Unfortunately, a mysterious hardware problem kept Robonaut out of action since at least 2015, so in 2018 it returned to Earth for repairs. The latest member of the Robonaut family is R5, known as Valkyrie, an advanced bipedal humanoid designed and built at NASA JSC to compete in the 2013 DARPA Robotics Challenge.

Two humanoid astronauts hold tools.
Robonaut can grasp and operate human tools. Photo: Robert Markowitz/NASA
The robot holds a phone in one hand and manipulates the screen with one finger from its other hand.
Robonaut takes a break to check Twitter. Photo: Joseph Bibby/NASA

More Images

Robotnaut and an astronaut in regular clothes are on the inside of a space station full of equipment.
Robonaut on the ISS. Photo: NASA
The robot is suspended in a harness. Two soft jointed white legs with golden end effectors are attached to its torso. They manipulate objects below.
These legs are made for wiggling. Photo: NASA

Specs

Overview

Dexterous manipulation of human tools. Able to lift 9 kg (20 lb). Equipped with autonomous and teleoperation modes (from the ISS or Earth).

Status

Ongoing

Year

2010

Website
Width
78.74 cm
Height
101.6 cm (waist to head)
Weight
149.7 kg
Sensors

More than 350 sensors, including custom six-axis load cells in the hands, four cameras behind the visor (two for stereo vision and two auxiliary), and infrared camera in the mouth area for depth perception.

Actuators

54 servomotors

Degrees of Freedom (DoF)
42 (Arm: 7 DoF x 2; Hand: 12 DoF x 2; Neck: 3 DoF; Waist: 1 DoF)
Materials

Primarily aluminum with steel.

Compute

38 PowerPC processors

Power

Power conversion system housed inside backpack for tethered operation. Backpack with batteries for untethered operation.

Cost
$2.5 million