Human-Robotic Systems (HRS)


High quality production photos of Robonaut (R2) in Building 14 EMI chamber and R1/EMU photos in Building 32 – Robonaut Lab. Photo Date: June 1, 2010. Location: Building 14 – EMI Chamber/Building 32 – Robonaut Lab. Credits: Robert Markowitz & Bill Stafford.

The Human-Robotic Systems  project focuses on development, testing and evaluation of robot systems that help humans operate more effectively in space. Key technologies include human-robot interaction, robotic assistance, and surface mobility components.

The Human Robotic Systems (HRS) project focuses on development, testing and evaluation of robot systems that help humans operate more effectively in space. This may include working in advance of human arrival, working alongside humans or following the departure of human explorers. In some cases, the project develops systems and technologies for immediate infusion into mission and in other cases HRS develops well in advance of the need by the agency to buy down risk such that these advanced capabilities will be ready when called on. Key technologies include human-robot interaction, robotic assistants, and robotic mobility systems.

National Robotics Initiative

The National Robotics Initiative (NRI) is a cross-governmental agency, joint solicitation that supports a national initiative to accelerate the development of next-generation robots in the U.S. Participating government agencies provide funds for competitive grants to U.S. universities and research labs—to conduct robotics research and development—with the goal of bringing robotics capability back to the U.S., keeping the country competitive in robotics. During 2017, 12 grants are active within NASA’s NRI portfolio, covering a wide variety of applications, including robotic walking and foot/soil interaction, exoskeletons, machine learning and planning for humanoid robots, long/thin tendril-like robots for inspection, robotic motors/sensing and multiple rover planning under multiple constraints.

Click on the gallery tab to view a map of HRS partners and to see other images and video.

Principal Technologist Project Manager
Kimberly Hambuchen ( Bill Bluethmann (

NASA Awards Two Robots to University Groups for R&D Upgrades

Humanoid robots will be helpful to astronauts on our journey to Mars, so NASA has awarded prototypes to two universities for advanced research and development work. NASA is interested in humanoid robots because they can help or even take the place of astronauts working in extreme space environments. Robots, like NASA’s R5, could be used […]

A Step Up for NASA’s Robonaut: Ready for Climbing Legs

Getting your “space legs” in Earth orbit has taken on new meaning for NASA’s pioneering Robonaut program. Thanks to a successful launch of the SpaceX-3 flight of the Falcon 9/Dragon capsule on Friday, April 18, the lower limbs for Robonaut 2 (R2) are aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Safely tucked inside the Dragon resupply […]

NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer | April 19, 2014 CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot — now stuck on a pedestal — is going […]

KSCVC Robot Rocket Rally March 2014 VirginiaTech (Video)

A robot revolution invaded Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex March 14 – 16 for the first-ever Robot Rocket Rally, a three-day festival celebrating the latest in robotic technology from NASA, industry leaders and universities. View on YouTube (Source: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex)

Engineers Building Hard-working Mining Robot

After decades of designing and operating robots full of scientific gear to study other worlds, NASA is working on a prototype that leaves the delicate instruments at home in exchange for a sturdy pair of diggers and the reliability and strength to work all day, every day for years. Think of it as a blue […]

NASA’s Humanoid Robonaut 2 Waltz Both Elegant and Creepy (Video)

NASA’s robot butler for astronauts, Robonaut 2, may still be waiting for its legs to be delivered to the International Space Station, but you can see how the humanoid automaton may dance in weightlessness with an eerie elegance in this new video. Read Full Story Source*:

Researchers explore the potential of an exoskeleton patients can control with their brains

Robotics engineer Roger Rovecamp tries out the X1 exoskeleton as University of Houston professor Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal looks on. Image credit: University of Houston Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal looked on as Roger Rovekamp, wearing a skullcap covered in electrodes, took halting steps, each leg moved by the robotic exoskeleton wrapped around his body. Contreras-Vidal, a professor […]

NASA’s Ironman-Like Exoskeleton Could Give Astronauts, Paraplegics Improved Mobility and Strength

Marvel Comic’s fictional superhero, Ironman, uses a powered armor suit that allows him superhuman strength. While NASA’s X1 robotic exoskeleton can’t do what you see in the movies, the latest robotic, space technology, spinoff derived from NASA’s Robonaut 2 project may someday help astronauts stay healthier in space with the added benefit of assisting paraplegics […]

Robot exoskeleton suits that could make us superhuman

If you’ve been dreaming of strapping on your own “Iron Man” armor, you might have to wait a while longer. But revolutionary “bionic exoskeletons,” like the metal suit worn by comic book hero Tony Stark, might be closer than you think — just don’t expect to fly away in one. Read Full Story Source*: CNN

NASA JPL controls rover with Leap Motion, shows faith in consumer hardware

If you think using the Leap Motion controller for playing air guitar and typing without a keyboard was cool, try using it to control a NASA rover. Victor Luo and Jeff Norris from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab got on stage at the Game Developers Conference here in San Francisco to do just that with the […]

NASA remotely controls Athlete rover with Leap Motion: ‘let’s bring a billion human beings into a holodeck’

“Just for you guys today we’re going to do something special, something that’s never been done before” said Victor Luo, NASA human interface engineer. “We’re going to drive this robot, on stage at GDC, with a Leap Motion device.” Read Full Story Source*: The Verge

Slideshow: Competitors Gear Up For DARPA Robot Challenge

The stage has been set for competitors to vie for a $2 million prize from the Department of Defense to develop a robot that could perform a number of physical tasks that might be required to respond to a disaster or an emergency as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Robotics Challenge, which […]

How To Build A Hero

Humans regularly lose their lives rushing into disaster zones. Now engineers are racing to build robots that can take their place. By the end of next year, robots will walk into a disaster zone. They won’t roll in on wheels or rumble in on treads. They will walk, striding across rubble, most of them balancing […]

Meet ATHLETE, NASA’s Next Robot Moon Walker

To build and supply a lunar base, astronauts will need heavy-duty space trucks for transporting gear. There’s just one problem: no roads. That’s why NASA engineers designed the rover they call ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer)—to handle any terrain, whether dusty, rocky, or crater-y. The key is the rover’s six bendable spider legs and wheeled feet. On […]

Altius signs SAA with LaRC for Compactly Stowable Manipulator development A Space Act Agreement (SAA) has been announced between Altius Space Machines and NASA’s Langely Research Center (LaRC) to develop concepts for a new series of compactly-stowable, long-reach spacecraft robotic manipulators. The agreement will allow for Altius and NASA to jointly develop a new and novel Compactly Stowable Manipulator (CSM) system. Altius Space Machines: […]