Robotic arms on NASA's space shuttles, along with onboard the International Space Station have been used to ferry spacewalking astronauts , inspect heat shields for damage and move and install massive pieces of the station .
Now, NASA and GM are working with engineers from Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston to create what they're calling the Robonaut.
If the project comes to fruition, it would be NASA's second Robonaut.
The original Robonaut, which also was a humanoid machine designed for space travel, was built 10 years ago by the software, robotics and simulation division at the Johnson Space Center, according to NASA. Engineers there worked on the project with teammates from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).
The Robonaut 2, which also is known as R2, is designed to be a "faster, more dexterous and more technologically advanced" robot. Engineers said they're hoping it will be able to use its hands to manipulate small parts, while also having exceptional strength.
"Our challenge today is to build machines that can help humans work and explore in space," said Mike Coats, a director at Johnson Space Center. "Working side-by-side with humans, or going where the risks are too great for people, machines like Robonaut will expand our capability for construction and discovery."
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld . Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is email@example.com .
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