Robonaut is the latest generation of the Robonaut astronaut helpers, launched to the space station in February 2011 aboard space shuttle Discovery on the STS-133 mission. It is the first humanoid robot in space, and although its primary job for now is demonstrating to engineers how dexterous robots behave in space, the hope is that through upgrades and advancements it could one day venture outside the station to help spacewalkers make repairs or additions to the station or perform scientific work.
During a visit to meet new subcontractors at NASA and discuss the contract, Barb DeBernardo, S&K Global Solutions Program Manager, Paula Lawton, Deputy Program Manager, Michelle Miller, Project Control Analyst, and Mary Custer, Project Administrative Specialist, had a chance to take a tour of the Robonaut project. S&K has two employees on the contract who also work in tandem with two subcontractors with ReThink Motion, Inc. The S&K employees are Leslie Houk, Technical Expert, and David Fretz, Systems Administrator.
“In a nutshell, we have been working for the last couple of years to upgrade Robonaut’s existing electrical and control systems to accommodate climbing legs and get much more use out of the existing torso hardware,” said Elliott Potter, subcontractor with ReThink Motion. In July and August, the crew made hardware updates to their Robonaut torso and attached a new pair of climbing legs that will free the robot from its stationary workspace and allow it to move around the cabin. “The result will be a much more capable robot that moves beyond being a science experiment and can become a useful member of the ISS crew.”