Now a friendly neighbourhood 'Robonaut 2' that works alongside humans

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Washington, Feb 5 (ANI): NASA and General Motors have unveiled robots that may soon work alongside humans in space and on earth.

The robots have been invented with the intention of lending a hand to spacewalking astronauts, as well as factory workers, with safety being the main concern.A giant robot swinging around that doesn't know whether a person is there or not is a bad thing," Discovery News quoted Marty Linn, GM's principal engineer of robotics, as saying.You can end up with all kinds of accidents. Robots can be very dangerous pieces of equipment," he said.

General Motors' factories currently cage their large robots to protect workers.

For the past three years, engineers from NASA and GM have been working on the prototypes, called Robonauts, at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

GM's droid likely will end up at the firm's technology development centre in Michigan, where engineers will use it as a test bed for sensors, software and other products that could be incorporated into future cars.

It could also improve manufacturing processes.

"We envision this kind of technology to be able to be used right around humans. Both NASA and GM share this vision of humans and robots working together," Linn said.

NASA would like to see a robot in space, with enough dexterity to handle pliable insulation and other materials too tricky for the cranes and robotic arms available on the space station today.

"This is a human-scale robot. It works at human speeds. We're working closer and closer to the human form, and that's a difficult challenge," Ron Diftler, who oversees the Robonaut project for NASA, said.

"We are foreseeing this as an EVA (extravehicular activity, or spacewalk) assistant," Diftler said.

For example, the droid could save time and reduce risks to spacewalking astronauts by going outside first to prepare work sites.

The Robonauts, which were unveiled on February 4, are based on work NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency did a decade ago. (ANI)

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