In mid February of 2004 Dr. Will
Clement and I travelled to the Johnson Space Center to visit the Robonaut
headed by Dr. Rob Ambrose.
This was in an effort to familiarize
ourselves with a cutting-edge robotic system that was designed for the
Shaking hands with Robonaut-B. This robot is the second
generation unit and is equipped with two seven
degrees-of-freedom arms on a torso that is supported by a five
degree-of-freedom positioning leg.
On the head are mounted two cameras that are used for machine vision
Close-up of the hand without a glove. Notice the tendon actuated
the opposable thumb.
Detail of the shoulder joint of one of the arms without the protective
fabric covering. The arm
harness (white bundle) is external to the arm hardware.
The precursor to the Robonaut, a robot called D.A.R.T
It uses two PUMA
arms as the manipulator arms.
On this trip, one of my dreams came true! I got to ride a Segway HT
. Rob was nice
enough to let us give his for a spin inside Building 9.
Building 9 is also the site where the astronaut trainers are located
such as this one. This is called the Full Fuselage Trainer,
and is a complete mockup of the Shuttle crew cabin, Payload Bay and Aft
Section. There is also a trainer of just the
crew compartment (the front part where the astronauts live) that can be
tilted up and down. For more information, click here