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The humanoid Robonaut 2 GM takes its place at the International Space Station

Engadget readers shall elect R2 Robot of the Year

International Space Station

At about 424 km above the Earth, Robonaut 2, the humanoid robot developed by skilful General Motors and the Johnson Space Center of NASA has finally started his first mission.

R2 was put aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery (Orbiter) in the fall of 2010 and was due to fly in space at the beginning of November. The last launch of Discovery on Thursday was delayed due to inclement weather and technical problems with the orbiter. The docking with the International Space Station is planned for Saturday.

Just a few days before the takeoff of Discovery from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, R2 has won the title of "Robot of the Year" by the popular technology website R2 raid nearly 44% of the votes of readers of the site, ahead of five other competitors.

Before performing common tasks with astronauts, R2 will be subject to a trial period and development. A twin of the robot on the International Space Station remains at the Johnson Space Center in Houston or engineers refine its detection systems and control.

In addition to R2, a carrier with a series of tables interchangeable spots was sent to the International Space Station. Astronauts and engineers evaluate the performance of R2 in a fan of simulated spots in a microgravity environment in space. Based on measured data in the space station, the engineers on the ground will have update the software and hardware.

R2 will remain aboard the International Space Station indefinitely and, if all goes well, it will come sooner or later, has to perform the maintenance tasks and routine maintenance. Of improved versions of R2 could someday perform spacewalks.

"The engineers also are studying GM in what ways the intrinsic R2 technology can be put to use in manufacturing facilities to make the workplace safer," stated Marty Linn, principal engineer in robotics. "The dexterity and endurance of R2 can be advantageously exploited to help reduce repetitive stress injuries among employees, In addition, the detection capabilities of R2 can be utilized in the systems of prevention of collisions. "

The humanoid Robonaut 2 GM takes its place at the International Space Station picture #1

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