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Human-like robot comes alive aboard space station

August 23, 2011 |  2:56 pm

RobotinSpace

A 330-pound humanoid robot was electronically awakened aboard the International Space Station this week, beginning its life as an astronaut's assistant.

The robot named Robonaut 2, or R2, will help with routine tasks such as holding tools and vacuuming air filters. The robot was sent up on space shuttle Discovery in February, but it wasn't powered up until now.

Check out the video above as R2 gets unpacked.

Clad in a gold helmet with a shiny metallic visor, R2 has a torso, two arms and two five-fingered hands. For now, it sits on a fixed pedestal inside the space station.

"Next steps include a leg for climbing through the corridors of the space station," NASA said.

Once fully built, NASA envisions R2 assisting astronauts during space walks as they make mechanical fixes to the outside of the space station.

R2 was jointly developed and built by NASA and General Motors engineers at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. But some of the engineering know-how and robotic innards came from California, such as HRL Laboratories in Malibu, JR3 Inc. in Woodland and Cirexx International Inc. in Santa Clara.

If you want to find out more about R2 or talk to it, NASA has established a Twitter account for the robot. Take a look here.

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-- W.J. Hennigan

twitter.com/wjhenn

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