WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) -- Robonaut 2, NASA's robotic astronaut torso, floats about the International Space Station without any legs. But that's about to change, thanks to NASA engineers.
NASA scientists have built R2 a set of high-tech, 9-foot-long legs. The legs are more like big long sloth arms than human legs -- ultra long and flexible with seven joints. Instead of feet, the legs are outfitted with "end effector," which will lock in, via sockets, to tools and handrails.
"The new legs are designed for work both inside and outside the station, but upgrades to R2's upper body will be necessary before it can begin work outside the space station," NASA officials said in a news statement.
R2's new legs will ship up to the space station on Monday, April 14, aboard SpaceX's unmanned Dragon capsule.
SpaceX is the private space launch company founded by PayPal entrepreneur and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk. The outfit has already completed three separate mission resupply missions to the space station. Dragon will take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
NASA says some of the technologies that helped engineers craft R2's new legs could prove useful on Earth. Scientists are currently working on a robotic exoskeleton that could aid people with physical disabilities.
[NASA] [Christian Science Monitor]