Driving a robot from Space Station

ESA has created the little brother of NASA’s Robonaut2: this is Justin, the android, who will be soon controlled remotely by the astronauts in ESA’s Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station. ESA is already working on a new project: they will create a robot which will be able to reproduce the sensations a human hand would feel – a distant operator can work as though he were there.

(25 April 2013) — R 2, the dexterous humanoid robot that was carried up to the station by one of NASA’s final shuttle flights in 2011, awaits a direction from NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn (seen in the robot’s visor), Expedition 35 Flight Engineer, who was performing the second of a two-day session of Taskboard and Tele-operations with R 2 onboard the International Space Station. The goals for these activities were orientation and depth familiarization, individual hand grasp and hand-to-hand object transfer; and all were completed nominally. The Robonaut Tele-operation System is used to demonstrate the ability to effectively control Robonaut from the station. The research objective is to evaluate this control method in terms of its ability to perform tasks as well as measure the time necessary to complete the defined tasks. This capability will need to be developed to support future operations of Robonaut in the space environment as well as certain intravehicular activity situations.


(31 January & 1 Feb. 2013) — Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, is pictured in this image photographed by an Expedition 34 crew member in the International Space Station’s Destiny laboratory. R2 was powered up so ground controllers could run it through a series of tests and configuration checks after a recent software upgrade.


(2 Jan. 2013) — In the International Space Station’s Destiny Laboratory, Robonaut 2 is pictured during a round of testing for the first humanoid robot in space. Ground teams put Robonaut through its paces as they remotely commanded it to operate valves on a task board. Robonaut is a testbed for exploring new robotic capabilities in space, and its form and dexterity allow it to use the same tools and control panels as its human counterparts do aboard the station.


(28 Aug. 2013) – In the International Space Station’s Destiny laboratory, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, Expedition 36 flight engineer, wears tele-operation gear consisting of a vest, gloves and visor to telerobotically test Robonaut 2’s maneuvers. Cassidy was able to manipulate R2’s head, neck, arms and fingers telerobotically through his own movements as well as through verbal commands.