Russia steps up research on cosmonaut-humanoid robot interaction in space
A handout image released by NASA Oct. 8, 2014 shows NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman (pictured here) and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst from Germany complete the first of three spacewalks for the Expedition 41 crew aboard the ISS. The spacewalkers worked outside the space station's Quest airlock for 6 hours and 13 minutes, while NASA Flight Engineer Barry Wilmore operated the Canadian robotic arm, maneuvering Gerst during the spacewalk as spacewalk coordinator. EPA/NASA / ALEXANDER GERST / HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY
File image shows Alin Albu-Schaeffer (C), head of the Robotics and Mechatronics Center, and German Aerospace Centre member Hansjoerg Dittus (R) say cheers to Russian cosmonaut Sergei Wolkow, on the International Space Station (ISS), who is controlling Justin the robot during a presentation at the German Aerospace Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, Dec 17, 2015. This 'telepresent handshake' was transmitted through the humanoid robot SpaceJustin, remotely controlled from the ISS some 400 km away, and is a prototype for future space robots. EPA-EPA (FILE)/ MATTHIAS BALK
File image shows ground personnel helping International Space Station (ISS) crew member cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev (C) of Russia out of the Soyuz MS-09 capsule after landing in a remote area outside Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, Dec 20, 2018. EPA-EFE (FILE)/SHAMIL ZHUMATOV / POOL
File image of the International Space Station (ISS) seen in its Low Earth Orbit, with the Earth seen in the background, dated Oct 26, 2010. EFE-EPA/ NASA/ISS Archive / HANDOUT / EDITORIAL USE ONLY
International Space Station (ISS) crew members Alexander Gerst (front R) of Germany and Sergey Prokopyev (front L) of Russia, dressed in Kazakh national costumes, shake hands at the airport of Zhezkazgan in Kazakhstan, Dec 20, 2018. The Soyuz MS-09 capsule with astronauts Gerst of Germany, US Aunon-Chancellor, and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev safely returned to Earth on Dec 20, 2018. EPA-EFE (FILE)/SHAMIL ZHUMATOV / POOL
Moscow, Feb 12 (efe-epa).- Russia's space agency is set to increase its research into cosmonaut interaction and communication with humanoid robots during spacewalks, an official said Tuesday.
Humanoid robots are being designed and developed to ensure the safety of future extravehicular activity outside the International Space Station (ISS).
Dmitri Rogozin, general director of Roscosmos, said his agency's decision was "to step up research into the cooperation between a cosmonaut and remotely operated humanoid robots," and added it was necessary to guarantee "operational safety outside the ISS."
This decision was taken after Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononeko and Sergei Prokopyev performed on Dec. 12 an epic 7 hour, 45-minute spacewalk outside the ISS to examine a hole in the Soyuz MS-09 fuselage which required opening the Russian spaceship's meteorite shield in lower earth orbit, a first in the history of world cosmonautics.
Russia described it as one of the "most complex" spacewalks ever attempted.
As the Soyuz is not designed to support spacewalks, Kononeko had to clamber over to the Russian space module with the assistance of a robotic arm controlled from inside the ISS by his fellow cosmonaut Prokopyev.
After examining the hull of the Russian's transfer vehicle and taking photographs, he then applied a thermal patch on the spot where the hole was found, therefore restoring the ISS' hermetic seal which had been jeopardized by the unexpected puncture.
Kononeko also had to use a cutter and scissors to slice a section of the hull's anti-meteorite lining to take a sample back to Earth for tests, which the cosmonauts did on their return to Earth on Dec. 20.
Russia's Tass agency reported on Feb. 8 that a group of six research cosmonauts had performed an experiment to remotely operate a humanoid robot on board the ISS from the Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Center in the outskirts of Moscow.
The robot repeated the operator’s actions in the experiment.
The cosmonaut center noted after the test that Roscosmos’ research cosmonaut Sergei Kud-Sverchkov fixed the safety tether spring hook to an ISS handrail for operation in open space with the robot’s help in under 12 minutes.
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The European Space Agency (ESA) continues experimenting with Justin, (or Rollin' Justin), a 45 kilogram (100 pounds), two-armed autonomous humanoid robot, developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
NASA also tested its General Motor's dexterous Robonaut 2 (R2) on board the ISS, delivered by Space shuttle STS-133 back in Feb. 2011, but its design did not allow for spacewalks unless a major redesign was undertaken.
It was duly returned to Earth and is now awaiting a return to active service sometime in the future.