Researchers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in collaboration with General Motors and Oceaneering, have designed a state-of-the-art, highly dexterous, humanoid robot: Robonaut 2 (R2). R2's nearly 50 patented and patent-pending technologies have the potential to be game-changers in multiple industries, including logistics and distribution. Even though R2 is currently designed with only a mobile upper body, R2's ability to accomplish complex and delicate operations provides a higher level of sophistication not currently seen in the existing robotics field for logistics and distribution. In terms of handling inventory, R2's dexterity would allow it to handle a multitude of items, including delicate ones. R2 can safely work in close proximity to humans, making the robot suitable to work in complex environments such as distribution centers. R2 has the ability to operate equipment and machines designed for humans, like handheld power tools or inventory-scanning equipment. R2's design enables many useful applications in logistics and distribution.
R2 was designed to work side-by-side with people, and to be sensitive to its surroundings. The robot's advanced vision systems and recognition processing can quickly identify a person in its path and take the appropriate action. There is no need to design specialized equipment for R2 because the robot has the ability to operate equipment and machines designed for humans. It uses its vision, force, and tactile sensing to carry out tasks in real time. Multiple cameras provide stereo vision and depth perception.
The robot was designed to handle unexpected objects coming into its path because it has to function in space where not everything is locked down. The robot has the ability to move in unconventional ways as compared to existing robots. Robonaut 1, an earlier version of R2, was integrated with a two-wheeled Segway personal transporter, giving it a range of motion. R2 has the capability of being integrated with a two-wheeled base or a more rugged four-wheel base. An adaptable interface would enable R2 to integrate with other surface mobility systems.