Robots might not be at a Terminator level of sophistication, but the technology is growing rapidly, and NASA has revealed what it calls “another milestone” in humanoid space robotics: legs for the Robonaut 2, more commonly called R2. The agency’s engineers are presently working on the climbing legs, which will give the robot a new degree of mobile freedom, enabling it to perform more tasks than currently possible.
For now, the Robonaut 2 is attached to a support pillar, which you can see in the image above, giving it a degree of mobility while it is tested on the International Space Station, where it has been since early 2011. The new legs, which appear similar in design to the arms and don’t so much have feet as they do forward-flexing appendages, will allow the robot to do more both inside and outside of the ISS.
The development is being funded by the space agency’s Human Exploration and Operations and Space Technology mission directorates. Lending a bit of functionality akin to that of its partial namesake, the foot-like appendages have end effectors, which allow it to utilize sockets both inside and outside of the ISS, as well as handrails. The legs have a total span of 9-feet, and each leg has seven joints.
Said NASA’s associate administrator for space technology in Washington Michael Gazarik: “NASA has explored with robots for more than a decade, from the stalwart rovers on Mars to R2 on the station. Our investment in robotic technology development is helping us to bolster productivity by applying robotics technology and devices to fortify and enhance individual human capabilities, performance and safety in space.”