General Motors’ and NASA’s Robonaut R2 is already set to join the crew of the International Space Station in September this year, where it will have to deal with zero gravity, vibrations, electromagnetic interference and radiation. It will be controlled primarily by humans on Earth via a space station laptop. If all goes well, it will be given real work to do.
Now NASA is proposing Project M, which would see Robonaut R2 go to the moon in lieu of human astronauts, all within the next three years. The project hasn’t received the official go ahead, but would be more of an inspirational enterprise than anything, with the robot walking on the moon’s surface to collect data and perform simple operations. If green-lit, the project would beat a similar proposal from Toyota by half a decade at least.
Though part of their pitch is that the project requires only existing technology, I don’t really think the legs they have will be able to hold up the 300 pound upper torso of the R2 – at least not yet. I’d also like to see them send robots to more distant celestial bodies; why not to one of Jupiter’s 63 moons, instead?