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Russian Robonaut to Travel to Space Station Within Two Years

Russia's SAR-400 will join NASA's Robonaut on the International Space Station

2 min read
Russian Robonaut to Travel to Space Station Within Two Years

At a space industry conference last week, Russian officials announced that their version of Robonaut, the SAR-400, is currently undergoing testing at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre Research Institute, and will be making its way to the International Space Station (ISS) within just a few years.

UPDATE 10/14/13: New video, just released of SAR-400 SAR-401 below:

In many ways, the SAR-400 is a lot like the NASA/GM Robonaut 2 that we've come to know and love. It's not intended to be autonomous (yet), but is instead teleoperated from the ground. Users put on gloves that directly control the robot's arms and hands, while also providing real-time force feedback. On Earth, it can lift up to 10 kilograms, and presumably in space, it can lift things that weigh a lot more. SAR-400 will be able to work outside the ISS, too.

Plans for its future were announced by Oleg Gordiyenko, science directorate deputy head at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre Research Institute, announced on Thursday at a space industry conference.

"It's to perform operations both aboard the ISS and outside," he said. "Scientists' plans envision introducing robots in manned cosmonautics. This is a promising avenue of research for coming years."

Controllers plan to loft the android to the ISS within two years to partner a U.S. robot already there. Future destinations are likely to be missions to the Moon and Mars.

The following video is over a year old at this point, but it gives a reasonable overview of some of SAR-400's capabilities:

It's worth mentioning that we heard the "within two years" promise last year too, and it may just be that two years is the number that gets thrown around when nobody is quite sure what exactly is going to happen when. But, it's nice to hear it reiterated, since it gives us a little extra confidence that they're at least still working on this thing and that maybe it actually will end up in space. Also, we can't help but get excited for what is certainly going to be twice the amount of robot-related shenanigans.

Via [ ] and [ ] and [ ITAR-TASS ]

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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