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Dexterous Humanoid Robot

This robot can replace human workers in dangerous, life-threatening conditions.

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

A humanoid robot has been created that includes a torso, a pair of arms, a neck, and a head. The torso extends along a primary axis and presents a pair of shoulders. The pair of arms movably extends from the shoulders. Each of the arms is fully jointed. The neck movably extends from the torso along the primary axis, and has at least one neck joint. The head movably extends from the neck along the primary axis. The head has at least one head joint. The shoulders are canted toward one another at a shrug angle that is defined between each of the shoulders such that a workspace is defined between the shoulders.

In another aspect of the invention, a human robot is created as described above, but also includes a pair of hands and a skin layer. Each of the hands includes at least five fingers such that each hand has at least 12 degrees of freedom (DOF). The skin layer substantially covers the robot. The multiple DOF provide the robot with a level of dexterity required to manipulate standard tools and assembly components. The robot may also be configured to achieve strength and sensing levels that are consistent with manipulating substantial tools and hardware. The hands may be strong enough to solidly grasp heavy payloads, e.g., 20 pounds (≈9 kg) and the like, with the hands in any orientation. The arms, the hands, and the fingers may also be configured to have force control, or the dexterity to manipulate flexible materials, small objects, human tools, etc.

Each robotic joint contains and/or is driven by one or more actuators, e.g., joint motors, linear actuators, rotary actuators, and the like. As a result, the robot is configured to perform significant work. Specifically, the robot can perform assembly, construction, and maintenance tasks that are currently performed by humans. Additionally, the robot may be configured to be of the human scale, allowing the robot to share the same workspaces that are typically designed for human workers.

This work was done by Robert O. Ambrose, Myron A. Diftler, Scott R. Askew, Robert Platt, Joshua S. Mehling, Nicolaus A. Radford, Philip A. Strawser, and Lyndon Bridgewater of Johnson Space Center; Charles W. Wampler II, Muhammad E. Abdallah, Chris A. Ihrke, Matthew J. Reiland, Adam M. Sanders, Douglas Linn, and Donald R. Davis of General Motors Corp.; and David M. Reich, Brian Hargrave, Adam H. Parsons, and Frank Noble Permenter of Oceaneering Space Systems. For further information, contact the JSC Technology Transfer Office at (281) 483-3809.

Title to this invention has been waived under the provisions of the National Aeronautics and Space Act {42 U.S.C. 2457(f)} to General Motors Corporation. Inquiries concerning licenses for its commercial development should be addressed to:

General Motors Research & Development Center
30500 Mound Road
Warren, MI 48090-9055
Phone No.: (313) 556-5000

Refer to MSC-24739-1.