R2 in Space

Some of you may recall that General Motors and NASA have been collaborating on the development of a humanoid robot that has been given a Disney-sounding moniker, Robonaut 2, or R2.

Some of you may recall that General Motors and NASA have been collaborating on the development of a humanoid robot that has been given a Disney-sounding moniker, Robonaut 2, or R2.

The robot is going to be sent into space. (This would be an appropriate time to make a joke about it going to space to search for Saturn—the planet, not the car division that GM caused to disappear—but we won’t.) R2 will become a permanent resident of the International Space Station. The 300-lb. character will be delivered by the space shuttle Discovery this September.

R2 will be put to work in the station’s Destiny laboratory.

In getting ready for the mission, R2 is undergoing what GM describes as “extensive testing,” including vibration, vacuum and radiation testing. And apparently, a bit of physical training, too, as evidenced here:

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R2 will not be alone. There is another space station robot, Dextre, which was deployed by the Canadian Space Agency. Unlike the humanoid R2, however, Dextre is essentially two long arms and is located on the outside of the craft, where it assists space-walking astronauts.

After all, having a single non-human intelligence on board a spacecraft to lead to no good.  Think only of HAL. . . .