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Bringing Space Robotics to Earth Applications

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Researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2 is made up of multiple component technologies and systems – dexterous hands, compliant limbs, integrated sensors, redundant safety systems, machine vision cameras, and much more. R2’s nearly 45 patented and patent-pending technologies have the potential to be game-changers in multiple industries, including logistics and distribution, medical and industrial robotics, and beyond. Ron Diftler, JSC’s Robonaut Project Manager, will provide an overview of this exceptional suite of technologies now available for licensing.

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David Leestma, Manager of NASA JSC’s Technology Transfer Office, will highlight the innovative work being done at Johnson Space Center. JSC has served as a hub of human spaceflight activity for more than half a century. While playing a pivotal role in the space program—as the nucleus of the nation’s astronaut corps and home to International Space Station (ISS) mission operations—the center has also provided an extraordinary model of how a federal laboratory can strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life.

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Speaker: Dr. Ron Diftler, Robonaut Project Leader , NASA Johnson Space Center


Dr. Ron Diftler serves as the Robonaut Project Leader at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Robonaut is a human scale space robotic system designed to assist astronauts, before, during and after space walks. The Robonaut Team’s latest robot, Robonaut 2 (R2) is the culmination of 15 years of NASA Robonaut development and a highly successful partnership with General Motors.

Dr. Diftler holds a B.S.E. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University, a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Yale University and a Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering from Rice University. Dr. Diftler has published more than 50 peer reviewed technical papers in robotic systems and helicopter dynamics. He has 11 patents currently in process or awarded in the field of robotics. Dr. Diftler is a recipient of a 2009 NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Award, a 2004 NASA Public Service Medal, and the 2005 IEEE Humanoids Conference Best Paper Award.

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Speaker: Dave Leestma , Manager, Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office, NASA Johnson Space Center


Dave Leestma is the Manager for the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office (TTO) at the NASA, Johnson Space Center (JSC) charged with facilitating the transfer and commercialization of NASA-sponsored research and technology. Leestma graduated first in his class from the U.S. Naval Academy and received his wings in 1973.

Through his career at NASA, Leestma has served in multiple positions such as the capsule communicator (CAPCOM), as Director of Flight Crew Operations, and as Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office to name a few. During his tenure as Director of Flight Crew Operations, 41 Shuttle flights and 7 Mir missions were successfully flown. Leestma has received numerous awards such as the NASA Space Flight Medal (1984, 1989, 1992), the NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1985, 1988, 1991, 1992), and the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive in 1998 and in 2004. Leestma received a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from the United States Naval Academy and a M.S. in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.

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