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Humanoid Robot Justin Learning To Fix Satellites

Justin is a dexterous humanoid that can make coffee. Now it's learning to fix satellites

1 min read
Humanoid Robot Justin Learning To Fix Satellites

dlr space robot justin

Justin is a dexterous humanoid robot that can make coffee. Now it's learning to fix satellites.

Justin was developed at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, part of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), in Wessling, Germany.

The robot has different configurations, including one with wheels. The space version has a head, torso, and arms, but no wheels or legs, because it will be mounted on a spacecraft or satellite.

The goal is to use Justin to repair or refuel satellites that need to be serviced. Its creators say that ideally the robot would work autonomously. To replace a module or refuel, for example, you'd just press a button and the robot would do the rest.

But that's a long-term goal. For now, the researchers are relying on another approach: robotic telepresence. A human operator controls the robot from Earth, using a head-mounted display and a kind of arm exoskeleton. That way the operator can see what the robot sees and also feel the forces the robot is experiencing.

Justin's head has two cameras, used for stereoscopic vision, which means the operator can get a sense of depth when manipulating the arms. And the arms and fingers have force and torque sensors, to provide feedback to the operator, who are able to know if, say, a screw is tight.

Watch the video to see a reporter operating the robot, which, he quips, probably "costs much more than what I can earn my entire life."

[youtube //www.youtube.com/v/W2HusqNsIAA&hl=en_US&fs=1& expand=1]

The Conversation (0)

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page
Blue

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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