It will start with Robonaut 2, the humanoid maintenance bot that NASA is sending to the International Space Station next week. And now Japan’s space agency (JAXA) has announced plans to send its own bot to the ISS. JAXA’s humanoid robot will not only talk and Twitter, but it will also act as a space nurse, monitoring the health of the astronauts.
The researchers behind the project say the bot would have a number of attributes that would make it a valuable crew member. For example, they say, it would never have to sleep–so it could keep watch when the flesh and blood astronauts are in dreamland.
And then there are its conversational skills, which would make it a lively companion for those lonley spacefarers. “We are thinking in terms of a very human-like robot that would have facial expressions and be able to converse with the astronauts,” JAXA’s Satoshi Sano told the AP.
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have been tweeting from space for six months now, making that Twitter phenomenon officially old and busted. So what’s the new hotness? Tweets from an ISS-bound robot astronaut.
Robonaut 2 is currently cooling its heels at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, awaiting its scheduled trip to the International Space Station on November 1st. Once on board the ISS, the two-armed humanoid bot will help out astronauts with their duties; it expects to be particularly useful on tasks that are “too dangerous or boring for astronauts.” But it will also find time to tweet.
Already, Robonaut 2 has addressed some pressing questions via Twitter with answers like these:
“Robots are non-gender by design. I’m an it.”
“No, no relation to Hal. Don’t know if I’d want to admit to having him on my family tree if I was. Def. don’t condone his actions”
Fans can get much more information from the first robot astronaut during its “twitterview” tomorrow. Send a question marked #4R2 and Robonaut will begin answering them at 10 am CST.
Discoblog: Astronauts in Space Finally Enter the Intertubes
80beats: A New Crew Member for the Space Station: The “Robonaut 2″
80beats: Robonaut 2: Coming Soon to Space Stations and Assembly Lines Near You
80beats: Japanese Consortium: We’ll Send a Humanoid Robot to Walk on the Moon
Image: flickr / NASARobonaut