Historic Handshake Between Robonaut 2 and Daniel Burbank

A NASA robot, named Robonaut 2, greeted its human commander with a hearty handshake on February 15, along with a silent message: “Hello, World.”

The historic handshake between man and machine, a first in space, was shared between NASA’s humanoid robot Robonaut 2, and American astronaut Daniel Burbank on the International Space Station. Robonaut 2 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. 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 (1.01 meters) tall and weighs about 330 pounds (150 kilograms). 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. NASA station officials said the next major tests for Robonaut 2 in space will be to check the robot’s onboard cameras. The head-mounted cameras allow Robonaut 2’s controllers to see what the robot sees and are also used by the robot itself to verify its work. Once Robonaut 2 passes its camera vision tests, NASA engineers plan to test the robot’s ability to flip switches, push buttons and perform other dexterity tests on a taskboard that mimics the controls used on the International Space Station.