This past week I got to work with Robonaut 2 again (me working one of the R2 Ops). We got to pull out his taskboard, and though it was not the first time he had used it, it was the first time we used Task Panel B. The task panel is what we’re usign to teach him how to use different types of knobs and switches, so that when he’s able to move about freely inside and outside the space station, he will understand how to utilize the different buttons and knobs. It makes me think of the mobiles you put in baby cribs. 🙂 Here’s a prety cool video out there of him using Task Panel A the last time we did ops: R2 Operating a taskboard on the ISS.

In the back ground, a team of PLUTO flight controllers and Robonaut engineers work together to drive his hands to the right places and calibrate the robot to operate with the taskboard in space. The Robonauts we’ve learned how to use on the ground are of course calibrated for 1G (standard Earth gravity), and it is not a simple thing to teach the robot to now work in microgravity. You’d be surprised by all of the little subtle things that change without the complex effects of gravity on each of his individual motors and limbs.

As we drive the robot to these different places, the robot is learning. He has a very complicated vision set of 4 cameras that can pick out and recognize tools, and he will eventually be able to use things like drills, wrenches, etc. In addition to the cameras, he has an infrared sensor that allows him to judge distance. When he is fully calibrated for space and gets his legs some time next year, he’ll be able to freely move around the ISS and go out on EVAs (extravehicular activities, i.e. spacewalks) and judge for himself where things are.

– Robonaut’s Youtube channel.

– Robonaut’s homepage.