The real Robonaut 2 may be up in the International Space Station helping astronauts with day-to-day activities, but now NASA is giving you the chance to have your own Robonaut 2 to experiment with (in a manner of speaking). NASA recently released the Robonaut 2 Simulator stack through ROS (Robot Operating System) and is inviting those with the know-how to download the stack and see what they can get the virtual Robonaut 2 to do.
This Robonaut 2 simulator comes with different Gazebo files that allow users to view the robot in three different areas: in an empty room, in the International Space Station, and in an empty room with a virtual version of the ISS task board, which is International Space Station talk for a board with different switches and buttons Robonaut 2 can manipulate. The brief tutorial found on ROS.org gives you all the information you need to get the simulation up and running and actually control Robonaut 2, but beyond that, you're on your own as far as getting the robot to interact with the surrounding environment goes.
This simulator is still in beta and its makers freely admit that it can appear a little rough around the edges when compared to the actual robot, but if nothing else, this should give ROS-savvy folks a good look into how Robonaut 2 is controlled when it's up in the International Space Station. Currently, NASA has no plans to return the real Robonaut 2 to Earth, instead leaving it at the ISS to not only help astronauts with their daily duties, but to also give NASA scientists an idea of how robots would fare during deep space missions. If you've got the know-how, you might as well give this R2 Simulator a go, seeing as how Robonaut 2 might one day change the way we explore space.
To learn more about Robonaut 2, check out our story timeline below!