Robotic astronaut offers glimpse into future at ProMat Keynote

During the 50th anniversary of the first industrial robot installed at a General Motors plant, the company is now celebrating another milestone: Its first robot in space.
By Modern Materials Handling Staff
March 22, 2011 - MMH Editorial

During the 50th anniversary of the first industrial robot installed at a General Motors plant, the company is now celebrating another milestone: Its first robot in space.
Marty Linn, principal robotics engineer for GM, and Ron Diftler of NASA’s Robotic Systems Technology Branch, introduced the Robonaut 2, a learning humanoid robot nicknamed R2, at the keynote on Tuesday.

“As we’ve seen the blending of science fiction to science reality, this robot is the next step,” said Linn.

The Robonaut program began in 1998 at NASA, and GM joined the project in 2006. The partnership has resulted in 42 patents and a $2.5 million humanoid robot with some of the most advanced dexterity hardware in existence.

Diftler presented video footage of R2 curling a 20-pound dumbbell, holding it at arm’s length, writing in cursive, and shaking hands. In fact, R2 is able to sense when a human would like to shake hands, one of the many nonverbal cues it is programmed to recognize. The advanced pressure sensors also increase safety, allowing a human operator to easily halt the movement of R2’s arm with a gentle nudge.

Linn touted the technology’s broad applications to products and manufacturing, citing all-new classes of safety and control systems in R2, who was not able to attend the event due to a prior obligation on the International Space Station. There, R2 is being tested in a series of indoor activities. Diftler said R2 might soon be used operationally instead of experimentally, and could be ideal for spacewalks where human risks are more severe.

“Reporters ask, ‘Did you design this to put people out of work?’ Absolutely not,” said Linn. “The people in this room know robots create jobs by enhancing and complementing human workers. The vision for us is humans and robots working side by side.”

Ridge stresses preparedness in ProMat Keynote
Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security, welcomed attendees to ProMat 2011 with his keynote speech.


ProMat 2011 will be held March 21 - 24, 2011 at McCormick Place South in Chicago. The tradeshow will showcase the latest manufacturing, distribution and supply chain solutions in the material handling and logistics industry.

Read all of Modern’s ProMat 2011 coverage

 



Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world's most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

MHI announced the MHI 2015 Innovation and Young Professional Award winners last night at their 70th Anniversary Celebration during ProMat 2015.

Today marks the conclusion of ProMat 2015, four days of comprehensive problem solving and networking to provide solutions to the complex manufacturing and supply chain challenges faced by industry today.

With a record 155,000 square feet of exhibit space reserved by nearly 350 companies back in December 2014, Modex 2016 will continue the show’s expansion in both solution offerings and popularity.

Doosan (Booth 662) highlighted the new BR18/20SP-7 narrow aisle reach truck, its first product in the class. It also showcased its first engine, which replaced third-party engines and is now used in all Doosan products.

During Wednesday’s afternoon keynote address, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, affectionately known as “The Woz,” suggested the future of technology now is every bit as uncertain to him as it was 30 years ago.

Article Topics

News · Automation · Robotics · ProMat · All topics

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2015 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA