The next launch of the U.S. space shuttle Discovery will carry a humanoid robot to the International Space Station.
Dubbed Robonaut 2 (R2), the robot has a helmeted head, a torso, two arms and two hands, and will use tools within a limited area inside the space station. NASA also is considering adapting the 300-pound robot to work throughout the space station, and even to assist astronauts during spacewalks.
Meanwhile, the Japanese Space Agency wants to send its humanoid robot to the space station by 2013 or 2014. The Japanese robot will communicate verbally with astronauts, monitor their stress levels, and send messages and photos to Earth via Twitter. The Japanese Space Agency and the University of Tokyo will spend the next year studying other potential functions, and issues such as the optimum height, weight and appearance for the robot. It will then take the space agency up to two years to build the robot.
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