General Motors and NASA collaborated to build the US robot called Robonaut 2 that is now aboard the international space station. The goal of that project was to develop a teleoperated humanoid robot that can be used for missions too hazardous for humans and general repairs aboard the space station. Interestingly, Russia has been at work on its own humanoid robot that will be sent to the ISS within the next two years.
The Russian robot is called the SAR-400 and looks enough like Robonaut 2 to make me wonder about patent infringement. The Russian robot has no legs (neither does Robonaut 2), and the reason for that is because it will be attached to a crane on the station and maneuvered wherever it needs to work. The operator of the robot will wear a head mounted display, jacket, and gloves that relay movements directly to the robot’s arms, hands, and head.
One interesting part about the gloves the operator wears is that they transmit tactile sensation from the robot to the operator. That will allow the operator inside the station to feel the tools the robot is holding. The sensations will also help the operator know if one of the robot’s hands becomes trapped. The Russian robot has been in testing for a while and has been able to tighten screws and open hatches. The hand controls for the robot are precise enough in operation to allow the bot play a game of chess.