Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Robonaut: NASA vs Lucasfilm vs Stark Industries
Robots are cool. The first robot I remember was Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still. I thought he was amazing. An alien robot who didn't talk, he guarded his master's spaceship with fierce devotion and shot a laser beam from his head that destroyed puny Earth weaponry without hurting anyone. I wanted a Gort to guard my tree house from the nasty boy who lived next door. Later, I'd see Star Wars and amend my wish to wanting my very own R2D2. Now, as a grown-up, I am amending my wish once again. I want my very own Robonaut.
Yesterday, the brains at NASA activated Robonaut, a humanoid robot designed to help astronauts on the International Space Station. The idea is that he will someday do the things that are a bit too dangerous for us mere mortals. He's been up there since February, but it took a little time to get his software loaded and prep him for his first big test. All went as planned and Robonaut powered up without blowing up, so all the little science types at NASA are very happy.
This first test involved turning on the four visible light cameras that are his eyes and the one infrared camera in his mouth that's supposed to be for depth perception. Sure, I'll believe that for now but I'm going to steer clear of what could be a killer-laser-beam-of-doom just in case he gets angry. And as though the guys at NASA could read my mind, they've gotten Robonaut his own twitter account so we can all have friendly chats with him and set our minds at ease.
As you can see in the picture, he looks like a cross between an astronaut in a white space suit and Iron Man. That gold head would make Tony Stark assemble the copyright lawyers faster than you could shoot a laser beam. He's also technically called Robonaut R2 which brings into question approval from the folks at Lucasfilm. Somehow this robot has Iron Man's head and is named after the droid we've all been looking for since we were kids. So, despite my uncertainties about that infrared camera he's hiding, once the inevitable legal showdown between Stark, Lucasfilm and NASA clears, I am first in line for a Robonaut R2 of my very own.