The historic handshake between man and machine
A NASA robot built to ease the daily lives of astronaut in space greeted its human commander with a hearty handshake Wednesday, along with a silent message: “Hello, world.”
“For the record, it was a firm handshake,” Burbank said in a NASA video marking the event. “Very nice… nice job on the programming and all the engineering. Quite an impressive robot.”
After the handshake, Robonaut 2 used its dexterous hands to say “Hello, world” in American sign language. The message is a traditional programming phrase and was also the first greeting sent out over Robonaut 2’s Twitter account @AstroRobonaut, NASA officials said in a statement.
Robonaut 2, or R2 as it is known at NASA, is a $2.5 million droid designed to be an autonomous assistant to help astronauts with complex chores to keep the space station running properly. The robot was developed through a NASA partnership with car manufacturer General Motors and is the first humanoid robot ever to fly in space.
“Today was a major step forward in R2’s development,” said Ron Diftler, Robonaut 2 project manager, in a statement. “The crew and the robot are working extremely well together and we’re looking forward to all the opportunities that will develop from this collaboration.”
NASA delivered Robonaut 2 to the space station in February 2011 during the last flight of the space shuttle Discovery. The robot consists of a torso, arms and camera-equipped head. It is 3 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs about 330 pounds.
Station astronauts powered up Robonaut 2 in August and have been testing it ever since. NASA also has a twin of the robot on Earth for use in field trials of a wheeled mobile base that allows the automaton to drive around different terrains.
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