Robonaut 2's space legs have been a not-secret since astronaut Rick Mastracchio posted a picture of them to Twitter back in January. Or at least, that's the first time we saw 'em. Since then, pictures have popped up all over the place, since anyone taking the Level 9 Tour at NASA's Johnson Space Center had a halfway decent chance of getting a peek. What we haven't seen, though, is much in the way of footage of Robonaut legging itself around. Finally, we've got some video* of that, which we can summarize in one word: wiggly.
These legs are not for walking, obviously, because Robonaut is designed for space, where it doesn't need legs that'll be able to successfully stand up to gravity, as it where. Rather, Robonaut's legs are more like secondary arms with secondary hands, that the robot will use to climb around the outside of the International Space Station, and to hold itself in place as it works with its primary arms and hands.
With its seven-jointed legs fully extended, Robonaut can span a gap of nearly three meters. Cameras and grippers on the ends of the legs lets the robot see where it's grabbing, and there are already plenty of rails and sockets on the ISS to help Robonaut get from place to place. The legs will be functional inside the station as well, and the Robonaut torso currently on duty in space is scheduled to receive this upgrade early next year.
Now, it would be pretty cool if NASA had a humanoid robot with actual real legs that could walk around on Earth and do stuff, and it would be even cooler if we got an early look at that robot and were able to share with you in the next day or two. Wouldn't that be cool?
* The video we embedded originally was removed from YouTube, so we found a replacement.
[ NASA ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.