NASA reports that Robonaut 2 began work aboard the International Space Station in mid-March of this year after being given the go-ahead by the crew and ground team. Its assigned task: to check the air flow coming from vents inside the station. This particular job is normally done by the astronauts once every 90 days to ensure the vents haven’t gotten clogged. According to NASA the measurements are sometimes difficult to obtain due to the zero gravity, and because an astronaut’s breath can affect the results.
Recently they published a video of the robot autonomously operating a control panel. It has to recognize the panel’s array of buttons and switches and know how (and when) to interact with each of them. The robot’s forearms have also been modified aboard the station with added heat sinks to allow it to perform longer. These are small but important steps towards the realization of a robot that can perform tasks outside the comfort of the station.