Astronauts on board the International Space Station to be helped by robotic teammate

In September 2010, Robonaut 2 (R2) will be taken to the ISS by the space shuttle 'Discovery'. Here, it will become the first humanoid robot to work in space. R2 was developed by NASA and General Motors, and will be capable of completing precise tasks such as setting up science experiments, or even running a vacuum cleaner.

"Our goal is for R2 to perform routine maintenance tasks, freeing up the station crew for more important work," explains Ron Diftler, Robonaut Project Manager at Johnson Space Center. "Here's a robot that can see the objects it's going after, feel the environment, and adjust to it as needed. That's pretty human. It opens up endless possibilities!"

R2 will at first be situated in one location in the station's Destiny Lab but Difler claims that over time, his team will improve the robot's opportunities for advancement. With the addition of legs or wheels, someday, R2 might even be capable of scouting a potential area on a planet or asteroid for humans to land.

Tests and evaluations for zero-g and other space environment effects must be measured, but over time, R2 will progress from performing simple tasks to more complicated jobs.