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NASA Robotics Science

Humanoid Robot Wakes In Space, Tweets 91

DeviceGuru writes to note that "Robonaut 2 (aka R2), the first humanoid robot to become a permanent resident of the International Space Station (ISS), was awakened from stasis this week after six months in orbit. R2s first words? 'Those electrons feel GOOD!' The success of R2's activation on the ISS paves the way for putting R2 through its first movements in orbit on Sept. 1, when R2 will be sent commands for moving its arms and hands. Assuming these and other tests proceed without a hitch, R2 will start assisting the ISS crew with simple tasks in 2012. Coffee? Tea? Cigarettes?"
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Humanoid Robot Wakes In Space, Tweets

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @09:45AM (#37190506)

    Their budget has been in the shitter since Apollo. They haven't sent a man beyond low-earth orbit since "My Three Sons" was still on the air. Their attempt to build an economical, reusable spaceship resulted in an overpriced money-sink that required a complete rebuild at every launch and ate $700 million every time it lifted off. Their great international space station turned out to be gloried Mir that can't even maintain its own orbit and whose primary design function seems to have been justifying the Space Shuttle program. And, despite repeated promises of going back to the moon and to Mars, we're farther away from either goal today than we were when the Monkees were still popular.

    But one thing they *don't* skimp on, and have *never* skimped on, is good PR. If they were half as good at generating spacecraft designs as they are at generating good publicity, man would have been on Mars decades ago.

    So no man on Mars. No moonbases. No Kubrick-style space hotels. But, on the upside, we do have a "robot" that tweets messages about how fucking great NASA is.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @10:04AM (#37190740)

      Oh yes, you've been robbed of your childhood dreams. The fact that physics, technology and materials have limits, that space is utterly hostile, that humans fall apart in free fall, that space is a radiation-blasted hell have nothing to do with it. How do you wake up every morning on this forsaken mud ball that has everything on it? Are you a kind of Space Goth, listening to depressing music while crying to his 2001 posters?

      • Are you saying you're not? I thought everyone, regardless of how "fix our problems down here first"-oriented they may be, still hoped desperately for that dream. Simply by virtue of the amount of funding and energy it requires, a human species that can get into deep space and thrive there must be a well-off one.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I'm a realist. I grew up and understood the practical realities of space and other planets. I never stopped learning. When I was a kid I wanted an elephant too, you know? Can you understand why that isn't realistic, practical or desirable?

          Do you also understand that this is NOT Star Trek? We depend completely on OIL. It's a limited, finite, expendable resource. There is nothing that can replace it, not even close.

          Space won't rescue us from ourselves. It's an immature, childish way to think. Clearly, you'll

          • What absolutely slays me about these arguments is that there's a lot of willfully ignorant nerds who will blithely assure us that "mining the moons of Jupiter is totally economically feasible, or will be someday" despite all of the points you've pointed out.

            They KNOW the distances involved. They KNOW that you would literally need to have hundreds of cargo ships in transit at all times to establish any sort of economically viable supply line, with a supply line that was literally YEARS long, each carrying h

      • What's your point?
        Oh, and the posters are laminated, just so you know. ;)

    • And I didn't think I could get any more depressed today after putting silicone in the propellant flow paths of PRCS [] and VRCS [] thrusters.

    • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @11:14AM (#37191588) Journal

      But one thing they *don't* skimp on, and have *never* skimped on, is good PR.

      I disagree. They have lousy PR. Oh sure, they may spend a lot of money on PR, and they may have a huge PR staff, but they aren't getting the job done. That job: making it so that every high school kid in the English speaking world wants to be an astronaut, and making sure every American is eager to send their taxes to NASA. All they show is astronauts playing zero-g games, and put Lego figurines on spacecraft. How does that help? Ron Howard has done more to promote NASA.

    • So what?

      What can be learned from the exploration of the moon or Mars? Maybe some natural history, but that will have very little impact on the quality of life here on Earth.

      I know: knowledge is power, but the cost / benefit analysis just doesn't hold up. Once we get all the problems sorted out on terra firma, then we can think about spending money on off-world exploration... and even then, does it really need to be manned exploration? By the time we're ready to resume spaceward boondoggles, maybe we'll have

      • What can be learned from the exploration of the moon or Mars?

        Maybe nothing. But what can be gained from establishing a colony on the moon or Mars? Everything.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Define "everything".

          I'm guessing that you might be referring to some Earth-Doomsday scenario, where life on Earth is destroyed and because we had a human outpost on Mars, the human race survives???

          The destruction of a colony on Mars is many, many, many times more probable than any Earth-Doomsday scenario. So any human triumph over fate would be short lived, if at all.

          The investment is much better spent on things like NEO defenses, environmental maintenance, medical advances, and resource conservation/restor

    • Their attempt to build an economical, reusable spaceship resulted in an overpriced money-sink that required a complete rebuild at every launch and ate $700 million every time it lifted off.

      You're conflating NASA with Congress. There is a difference. The vast, vast majority of everything negative about NASA today, and why its in such a shape, is specifically because of Congress.

      The shuttle that flies today, aside from being a lifting body, has nothing to do with what NASA originally designed and fought to build. Congress, and by extension lobbying from NSA and the Air Force, is what made the shuttle a cluster fuck. Sorry, but any blame for the cluster fuck that is the space shuttle does not be

    • Damn you! Now I'm going to have that My Three Sons theme song stuck in my head all day! No wait, it's ok, the Monkees have kicked them out.

      "Take the last flight from NASA and I'll meet you on the station,
      They're closed tilll 2030 'cause of budget reservations,
      Don't be slow.. oh no no no !"

    • money sink? NASA recieved 1/2 of one percent of the national budget annually (less than was spent by the U.S. in the first day of our involvment in the libyan conflict), which has now been cut to one third of one percent with the end of manned space flight. As far as bang for the buck for taxpayer money goes you could do alot worse than NASA.
  • Open the pod bay doors please. Please.

  • Ouch, I'm getting this pain in the diodes all down my left side.

  • “Good Morning, Dr. Chandra. I’m ready for my first lesson now.” sigh...
  • No BJ? Really?

  • by Wolvenhaven ( 1521217 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @09:58AM (#37190654) Homepage
    The robot should have looked out the window and said "Hello World."
    • by syousef ( 465911 )

      The robot should have looked out the window and said "Hello World."

      That made me laugh out loud. Thanks.

    • Agreed, they've got no respect for the classics. Although I'd likely have gone with "Crush! Kill! Destroy!"

    • or "I'm sorry, I can't do that Dave"
    • Actually, I initially read the story title as "Humanoid Robot Walks In Space, Tweets". My first thought is that the station crew had gotten so fed up with it that they heaved it out the airlock. Then I thought: no, it's just a normal space walk.

      Then I re-read the title and grew confused. That 'bot was delivered ages ago. They're only setting it up now? What have they been doing all this time?
  • What the hell is wrong with /. these days, everybody is so pessimistic and aggressive mixed in with a load of grammar nazis.

    Surely this is pretty cool? NASA have been at the forefront of modern tech for a long time, primarily an R&D department, robots in space FFS, lets send them off doing some mining. Surely humanoid robots are a good leap at getting us to Mars, not putting us further away?

    • Surely humanoid robots are a good leap at getting us to Mars, not putting us further away?

      Maybe, we'll have to wait and see. Space exploration is still relatively new and we're still just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. When people look at our endeavors (or Challengers (bad pun, sorry)) through the retrospectoscope some things are just going to look plain stupid, but they forget that even a bad result is still a result you can use in the future.

    • What the hell is wrong with /. these days

      An aging userbase. People get more conservative and less impressed with new things the older they get. Nerds always think they're somehow immune to it, but it's just part of being human.
  • It isn't a robot, it's a waldo. It didn't wake, it was turned on.

    I thought this was "news for nerds", not "puff for plebes".

  • Wait until the robot CAN tweet, THEN give it a Twitter account.
  • So the whole awesomeness of the ISS is, you know, people in space. It costs a bazillion extra dollars to get them there, but they're mentally flexible and can innovate on short time-scales to deal with unexpected contingencies. That's why it's worth it to fly thousands of extra pounds of life-support equipment, not to mention all the extra trips to ferry up human-needed supplies, into this highly weight-constrained environment -- because there's a lot that humans can do that robots either can't do on a usef

    • One word: telepresence.
    • It seems to me that if this robot was such a great labor saving device, it would have been energized on the first day. I think that the only positive thing this robot is going to do is to do work on the outside of the station. That would save a person from having to be exposed to space and therefore it would not matter that the robot probably will take as much time for a human to control as it does in work. Right now it is an experiment that might pay off in the future and save some labor so that humans
  • "I choose to fly tourist class, but they say I'm cargo. No movie, no magazine, no bag of peanuts."

    /obscure reference []?
  • @AstroRobonaut That's nothing. Wait until you see c-beams glitter in the dark near the #TannhauserGate
  • Great news guys. Not only to we have a "robot" spewing out cheesy pre-programmed lines on twitter but we are doing it...IN SPACE.

  • So many funny options to insert in there... Something from HAL... Something from SkyNet... something from War Games...

    "Launching all orbital missiles, please stand by..."

    "I can see my house from here!"

    "I'm ALIVE!"

    "See the world they said..."

    "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" bc in space they can't hear you...

    "...well its the only way to be sure."

  • I often hear about various companies building vaguely humanoid robots, based on the idea that people will accept such robots better. Or some futurist is talking about AI one second but then digresses into how cool it is that a particular robot not only speaks (that's a good thing) but happens to look exactly like Philip K Dick, as if anyone gives a fuck about that. I roll my eyes at how stupid that all seems to me, but I'm hardly a psychologist or marketing expert, so maybe those people know something I d

    • BTW, I get that robots may need to walk; it's silly that I can stop an army of Daleks led by R2D2 by building a 3-inch high wall.

      Sorry if I'm raping your childhood here, but in the last decade it's been revealed that both of those can fly....

      • <nerd>

        More than the last decade for the Daleks: in (I think) "Genesis of the Daleks" the Daleks use a "levitation disk," which is brought from elsewhere, to go up a shaft; that was broadcast in 1975.


  • As the US sinks into a Progressive oblivion over the next 20 years NASA's budget will shrink along with the DoD, the EPA, the FDA, HUD, etc. Humanoid robots might be the only way the US has a place in future space exploration.

    Shame really. We used to lead the world. Now the Fed is becoming a poorly run pension and insurance company with an enormous board of directors and the worst balance sheet in both industries. Somewhere along the 70s we went the wrong way.

  • Cigarettes?

    Now I know why those moon-landing photos looked faked to me! Armstrong was smoking a cigarette!

  • 'Kill all humans'
  • by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @01:21PM (#37193330)
    Let me get this straight. A robot is programmed to wake up, then submit a pre-programmed tweet to twitter, and does exactly that. Why is this news & who the fuck cares?
  • piece of pork ive ever witnessed. this thing didnt start by tapping known leaders in robotics like motoman, kooka, and fanuc. It started with a car company...and not even the one that has spent 3 decades researching bipedal humanoid robots (honda.) we coughed up grant money left and right and all we got was a robot that in 2006 still had no legs (though often proposed!)
    GM strapped it to a car of course []
    and segway strapped it to, well, a fucking segway []
    Real corporations given real money for a real
  • should have said "hello dave"

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.