Shaking hands with one of the most advanced humanoid robots in the world is an experience you won't soon forget.
After stepping back into NASA history with the Mission Control Center, the team was led into the future. We entered a small room locked away in a nondescript building, and we all immediately knew why we were there. There were two human-like forms with shiny gold heads among a room full of engineers waiting for us. We had entered the lab responsible for robonaut!
The gold-helmet-wearing bot you see in this picture is Robonaut2. It is an amazing piece of machinery that is incredibly capable and agile. The robonaut project started in the late 1990s. The goal was to have a robotic presence that could not only work side-by-side with humans, but operate things that were meant for humans to operate. This required robonaut to have a very human form.
Initially, only the torso and above were built for robonaut. The lower mechanism could be switched out for different terrain and job duties. In this picture we see the wheeled exploration device that they call "centaur." You'll get to see more of that later.
Robonaut2 is of the 2nd generation, which has not only improved on the strength and agility aspects but also is even smaller than its older sibling. Here you can see the bot getting ready to show off some muscle by lifting weights and holding them at angles that even a very strong person would struggle with after a few seconds.
One really cool thing that they demonstrated was how soft robonaut is. Not that he's a fluffy pillowy mass, but that his joints all have give. You can bump into him during actions and even though he is impressively strong, he wouldn't force his way through you. This is extremely important, not only to protect the drives within robonaut, but also to protect those that have to work with him.