Having a skeleton crew aboard the International Space Station means forcing PhDs to pull double-duty as janitors, and sometimes to undertake dangerous space walks. NASA’s solution? Robonaut, or R2 as it’s called by shipmates on the International Space Station. Conceived of in 1997, the goal was to create a robot that would take on jobs that are too dangerous, or dull, for humans. It has been an engineering marvel: Engineers equipped R2 with arms and hands that can carry 40 pound payloads; 350 sensors feeding into 38 processors give it the ability to carefully manipulate a control panel, or even send a text message from an iPhone.
There was just one problem—it couldn’t move. R2 was either mounted on a pole or attached to a wheeled base, both non-starters in space. Now, NASA’s engineers have finally unveiled a bizarre-looking pair of legs that will help the robot crawl around.