R2 Seeks D2

The shuttle Discovery is back in space – the last mission for this particular orbiter and the very first mission for Robonaut 2, a machine that looks like a guy from the waist up. Unfortunately, from the waist down, this R2 looks like a high–end speaker stand. But it’s the first foray off-planet for “humanoid” robots – stationary machines built to look like people. One small step for those who can’t take one small step.
Maybe the walking attachment will be called D2.

Too bad that Robonaut 2 is being permanently installed in the International Space Station on this trip – he would make a perfect government employee for the New Wisconsin. He draws no salary and has no fringe benefits. As for health care, a little more hydraulic fluid and we’re good. If long-term disability becomes an issue, upgrades are always available, but shipping is extra because he’s not allowed to go home (he could be a Democrat in the Wisconsin Senate!). Best of all, he’s the only one of his kind so collective bargaining is a non-starter.

R2 has an uncanny ability to mimic our arm and hand motions. He’s designed to duplicate some of the fine motor tasks the astronauts do, and his purpose on this trip is to be tested in the weightless environment of space. And also to freak out the other astronauts when they look up from their work to see a golden helmeted mechanical figure waving its arms around inside the space station.

“Danger, Will Robinson!”

If I were on the trip we’d get some good data on what happens when a machine gives you a strong case of the creeps in zero G. Good thing everybody wears astronaut diapers.

But best wishes to Robonaut 2 for a safe forever flight, and condolences for Robonaut 1, who didn’t qualify for space travel and will be working this summer as an automated fortune teller on various state fair midways.

Just like human space travelers, those who fly stand on the shoulders of those who remain behind.

If they have legs, that is.

What chore would you unload on a Dexterous Human Robot?

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91 thoughts on “R2 Seeks D2”

  1. Dusting, vacuuming, floor cleaning. I have been watching the advances made by the Roomba company for a few years… just waiting for the product to get a little more reliable and a little cheaper. If R2 could take these three things off my plate, I’d be giddy with joy!

    Morning all.

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  2. Rise and Shine Babots:

    Cleaning the house
    Folding laundry
    Unloading the dishwasher
    Preparing my taxes

    And just for you Dale — POOP PATROL!!!

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      1. Ha ha… just reminded me. When I was a younger, more naive gal – and owner of a much smaller yard, I thought it would be great to train the Irish Setter to poop in one place so it would be easier to clean up. I even built a nice 5′ x 5′ sandbox for her in the back of the yard. Well, let me tell you, Irish Setters don’t have the reputation they do for nothing! She wouldn’t poop in that box if her four-legged life depended on it. I spent weeks and weeks working to get her to go in the box. On day, I stood out in the rain with her on a leash for 30 minutes – I was going to outstubborn her. Nothing. Finally I took the leash off and headed back toward the house. She was pooping (not in the box) within 5 seconds. I gave up after that. But we had a nice sandbox for the neighbor girls to play in after that.

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      2. VS – my prior basset had the opposite problem – she would only poop in certain spots in her own yard. Take her for a walk, maybe, bring her to someone else’s yard (including my mom’s, which the dog visited often), nope. Convenient in some ways, difficult in others (like that time the back door froze shut and she couldn’t get out to “her” yard…).

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      3. VS, sounds like my attempts at pet training. I always give up and let them train me. It is easier for me to learn to do what the pets want than it is for me to train them.

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      4. How true, Jim!

        A woman in my book group trained her cat to go sit on the toilet. I am not kidding.

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      5. Anna – my current Irish Setter (yes, I keep making this choice over and over again) would really prefer to do her business in our yard, although she’s not fussy about where in the yard. When we go out walking first thing in the morning, she will wait and wait and wait… usually she can make it until we get back, unless it’s a seriously long walk. I almost think she’s embarrassed to poop in public!

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      6. Pippin usually won’t poop in our yard at all even though other dogs obviously do. I’ve tried and tried to get him to go in our yard but he won’t. He prefers the front lawn of the Lutheran church. He’s not at all shy about this predilection but it’s pretty uncomfortable for me… that’s what made me start carrying plastic bags out in the backyard and around town on walks.

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      7. My dog is so tidy that she tries to cover up her leavings with snow. She pushes the snow over the piles and puddles with her long terrier nose. I think it comes from living with three cats.

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  3. a gracious good morning to You All – i don’t know if it’s sad or happy that i seem to get most of my news info from “Wait, Wait” and TB.

    ooooh, those shoulders on R2 look so strong and able. unlike my two, that keep me awake at night with uncomfortable twinges. the pain seems to come from long spates of little, repetitive movements, like driving – or stamping, taping, labeling newsletters – or stirring cheese curd for 30 minutes. so, yes, thank you Dale! could you send him right over?

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    1. I looked at the cheese making deal you put on here. I am interested but man… What an intense process with unknown terms. When I get into it I will make sure you are there as a sounding board to ask all the stupid questions that I wont need to ask when I am an expert the second time. 30 minutes of stirring is one of those new deals I only sort of look forward to learning

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  4. Good morning to all.

    Could I just order R2 around and get it to do all of my work? Of course, I would not get as much exercise as I should, but I would have lots of time to come up with a way to replace the exercise of work with a fun types of exercise. I do enjoy some of the work I do and I could keep doing that if I miss it.

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    1. Yeah, what is the deal with that TP roll!? And why can’t anyone throw away the old tube?? Unless I throw it away, it will sit on the bathroom counter for DAYS!!

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      1. Sounds like sharing the bathroom with the teenager. I still don’t understand how you get mascara on the INSIDE of the medicine cabinet.

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      2. I have put in an above-the-commode cabinet and stocked it with TP – you hardly have to move off the pot to get a fresh roll – but still I sit down to one little square…grrr….(happy place happy place…going to my happy place…)

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  5. The list would be endless. My kids and co workers can attest. The opportunity to put this guy on a wagon , push him to a location and be certain that would be where he was 8 hours later when I returned sounds too good to be true. Go through my paperwork and file it the way I would like. Can you imagine what you would request if time , patience, convenience and human consideration were not part of the equation. He could start scraping the old paint off the windows and getting the putty put on the finished windows then put on 74 coats of paint. My cassette taes need sorting to and could you listen and catalog the songs on them and then transfer them to cd and download them to my hard drive. My tax records needs maintenance and the emails from the last 12 years could be arranged so the cross reference when I think of an item Id like to pull up, my yard is on a slope and if I put him on cart wih a rope he could lower himself down and swing pendulum like swaths of grass, weed maintenance, planting and oh yeah, shoeshines, I have shoes older than my kids that have never been shined. Hncould do that and ironing and alphabetizing my book and Lps and … And…
    Thanks for the birthday wishes we’d and the concern for the lowercase Absence . I could have the r2 spellchecker go back and misspell about half the words ( oh never mind it looks like I have that covered) and make all the lower case letters the norm . I have a nude virus it will take my geek a couple days to get out of my computer. I got an email form a friend who I was so happy to hear form and when I opened it it was for Viagra from Canada. She has sent emails saying don’t open it but I am too araid to open anythig from her. I hopefully will be back to my lower case self in a while. In the meantime I will write in the foreign hand.
    Enjoyed yesterday but I give up trying to blog driving down the road. I was driving from 2 am til 10 pm and toast upon my return, good to see you all again this morning. Linda I especially liked the 15 year old stationwago with the doors open and the engine running piece. Thanks for the smile.
    Steve get well

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    1. I’m glad you are not sending messages while driving, tim. Good luck on getting your geek to fix your computer. I guess I also have a lot of things that I never get done, like some of those things you mentioned, tim. I would probaby be able to put a whole bunch of R2s to work if they were available.

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      1. thanks for that-clicked on it just as I had to answer the phone and had to compose myself after the coughing/laughing fit

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      2. thanks for that-clicked on it just as I had to answer the phone and had to compose myself after the coughing/laughing fit-very nice indeed!

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  6. I’m not so sure I really want this kind of help. After spending years of my working life writing directions for other people to follow, I’m not so sure I would get what I want out of a programmed robot who would do EXACTLY what I said, but not necessarily what I meant.

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    1. You’d learn as in jims learning from his pets
      Nude virus was intended to be new virus but I like nude virus a little better

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  7. He could do my bike riding, which I just restarted after 3 months off. Just the first couple of weeks until I get my legs and lungs back; then I will take over.

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    1. Do you have your spot figured out for the winder bike riding in the new living room? Are you located so it will be easy to get at it in the new spot?

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      1. I am for the first time today riding in our current home. I used to ride at work, which was a nice convenience. By the time we are in our new home, I will be riding outdoors. Not sure how much I will be up to any more. But next winter I may use a gym instead. My wife thinks there is one in our building. Also, my BC/BS policy includes free gym use, the details of which I have yet to learn.

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    2. Ah, I had not thought of having R2 do my exercising for me-he could probably scan through that big stack of books by the bed and see all those movies I have been meaning to get to (Clyde, did check out Martian Chronicles, but fell asleep before I got to it-sometime this weekend….).

      All the meditative, repetitive tasks I have, I kind of like to do myself-it is the “sort through this box of stuff off-loaded on you by your parents and find a place for it” kind of thing I would love to delegate, but don’t really see as something R2 would enjoy either.

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  8. Dale
    Danger will robinson does send a very exact picture of arms waving. Well done again this morning. Are you back in driving shape?

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  9. Well, shoveling comes to mind, which would translate to mowing in the “off season”. Then I’m with VS – Dusting, vacuuming, floor cleaning, and how about shaking the 2,000 throw rugs. I’m sure I’ll think of others.

    I like Babots, Jacque.

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  10. I like the cooking, but maybe R2 could scan the fridge and cupboards for what needs to be used up, and then get out the exact recipe to use those items and have it on the counter for me by 4:30.

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    1. Mine would also talk me through the recipe and warn me before I do something wrong. “No, you have to beat the eggs BEFORE you add them…”

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  11. If you had this guy and rigged up a rope and pulley system he could go anywhere. Up to the cupboards, back to the vacuum cleaner. Take out the garbage, do the wash and put it away. This sure sounds marketable. Let’s get going on the baboons first corporate project. Never mind you and me what would target general mills and us bank find for blevens 2 to do for them?

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    1. Maybe we could put him on some kind of joy stick and make him levitate. He could dust my ceiling fans.

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  12. The governor of wisc could have it tape classroom lessons and then video them into the classrooms. Hey skip The classroms..just another added expense stream into every kids house and they all get the same lesson. No teachers no classrooms. Cost of education comes down to nothing, then get rid of librarians and firemen robot fireman is fearless and cheap. Drive via google maps and put out the fire. Our military could be replaced too. Hey this is fun… Do we really need citizens? What purpose do they serve if not to program computers and robots. Do we need governors..ha ha ha that is a huge plus no more Tim pawlentys or Jessie ventures, but well keep mark Dayton.. He let us come to Christmas of the12 floor daytons downtown all these years he should get to stay. We will start right after him wisconsin guy…never did anything I can think of…out he goes…. That crying guy for the republican party… Out he goes…Sarah plain. Let’s keep her for laughs… Michelle, what do do with a problem like michelle? I say let her run for president and then they will all see the tea party for exactly what it is. Maybe her and Sarah huh. What a riot that would be. And they could have robots do their clothes shopping for them

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    1. even better-parents will have to pay for the stream coming into their homes on a subscriber basis, and at last we can solve that pesky problem of people without schoolchildren having to pitch in for schools!

      on the other hand, the idea of having robots to do everything for us just gave me a weird memory of the society in Wall-E (and that would be one of the more benign Sci-Fi examples leaping to mind)

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    2. Remember that old movie, “The Stepford Wives?” The real wives were taken over by a sinister plot to robotize them. The robots did all that housework, and they smiled simp-ily at the husbands while making no emotional demands. Gov Walker needs a Public Employee version of those ladies!

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  13. Morning–

    As long as the robot comes with some common sense to go with all the menial jobs I’m all for it.

    The other thing I find fascinating is going to the link Dale provided and looking at other videos; watching the machinery in the room as they pack R2 for travel is pretty cool but even more than that; the QUALITY now of the shuttle launch videos! Wow! Remember the first few? Or even back to the Apollo launches?? Once it left the pad you got a fuzzy image of a bright spot in the sky– or the vapor trail… now the camera is mounted on the shuttle and YOU SEE THE BOOSTERS SEPARATE!! AMAZING!!
    Boy, I must be wound up this morning… Clyde already sent me to my quiet place over the TP roll and here I am again all full of capital letters and exclamation points!

    I’ve been a big fan of the space program for years… still have the models of the Apollo rockets and the moon landings… did 4H demonstrations on those Saturn V rockets. Had the Shuttle poster on my ceiling in my bedroom… and those January anniversary’s of the two we lost always put me in a funk…

    Happy Friday!

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    1. Ben, should you find yourself up this way in the near future, the Science Museum’s IMAX of the Hubble repair mission is TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!! all that definition, really huge and right in your face.

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  14. Hm…probably wreaking untold destruction on those that would oppose my tyrannical rule. Of course, my opponents would have the same robot army, so it would be like a life-sized ‘Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em Robots’ game.

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      1. Ah, the Eternity Artifact mentioned two days in a row. It has now jumped even higher on my “to read” list!

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      2. Both times by me. My son loves it. The ending was not quite right for me but I do not know how it should end. But the speculation of cultures which extend science, Christianity, technology, Islam secularism into the future is interesting.

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      3. My wife is the SF expert. I don’t mind it but, currently, I’m the “beating his head against a wall to get a short story of The Avenger pulp hero done” guy.

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  15. In case Babooners missing the “old” music on Radio Heartland, MIke Pengra sent me this message: “Hey Baboons!
    By all means, feel free to make requests on Radio Heartland. Best way to do it is by using the “Contact Radio Heartland” link on the RH homepage. Or, you can email me directly at mpengra@mpr.org. I’ll do my best!”

    He’s going to play Lake Baikal and Cold Missouri Waters for me plus more “water” music during the 8 am hour next Wednesday, March 2. (smiles)

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  16. Okay – so if we can send a robot named R2 into space to work on the International Space Station, how come I still have to open up the hood of my car to check the oil? You’d think by now car engineers would have worked out a good system for an oil gauge that would display on your dash *before* you’re so low you could damage the engine. I mean really…how many cars have you driven that *didn’t* need to have the oil level checked on a regular basis? That you could just trust to have a good oil level until the next oil change? And those dip sticks aren’t fabulously accurate anyway – you sort of have to intuit what the hash marks and bends in the stick mean…never mind standing out in a cold Minnesota winter wind to check said oil. I drive a VW for pity’s sake – those German engineers managed to get heat into my car seat, defrosters on my side view mirrors and a vase for flowers, but they can’t figure out anything better than a stick of metal for me to check the oil level? Seriously?

    (Okay, Ben, I think I need to join you in the quiet place this morning…)

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    1. Anna! You are exactly right! I mean they can tell us a tire is low on air pressure so what about the oil! Should be simple…
      tim; get on that would you please?

      (My farm truck has a V10 engine with the longest dipstick I’ve ever seen. Everytime I check the oil I get ‘dipstick envy’…. )

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      1. “And those dip sticks aren’t fabulously accurate anyway” – so is that why dipstick got to be a somewhat derogatory descriptor for a person? And I do believe “dipstick envy” should also be in the Baboon Dict.

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  17. I’d like to have a robot that would shadow me when I’m working. She would record odometer readings, take the amounts off of my deposit slips and credit the appropriate accounts, scan my receipts and ask, “Is this resale, or supplies?”, and on New Year’s Eve would be able to spit out a complete, perfect schedule C.

    I suppose you can guess what activity TB is distracting me from today.

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  18. I could use help, like BiB, with repetitive stirring. There is a technique in Indian cooking for brown frying onions in which you have to stir the oniions continuously for about 30 minutes. That gets tedious. It would also be nice to have someone else stir the rice when making risotto. Wouldn’t it be great to have a robot/snowblower combo- a machine that could clear snow all on its own?

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    1. How cool! I think I’d rather have a robot, though, because I could pretend to have a conversation with it and I would feel silly talking to the Robostir machine.

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    2. Ooh, gyroscopic action. I think I’m sold on it. Do they have them at that store at the mall where they sell all the cheesy infomercial products?

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    3. Yes, but Babooner Enterprises also needs to upgrade it with the automatic broth add-er and market it as the Risottomatic. Get on that one tim.

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  19. I actually enjoy cooking and housecleaning so I’ll keep those tasks. But I wouldn’t mind if R2 would do the yard work, especially weeding the creeping Charlie out of the garden beds. There are millions of voracious mosquitoes down there (my garden is downhill) from May through September and I don’t enjoy weeding creeping Charlie when they’re biting my face. I’m wimpy about yard work as soon as the temperature goes above 75 and the humidity goes above 60 percent. (Maybe I’m just wimpy.)

    I need a personal coach or a daily motivational speaker. Can R2 do that for me?

    OT: My younger brother (46 years old) had tachycardia early this morning and is in Fairview Southdale undergoing surgery. :(

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      1. Best wishes to your brother. Hospitals now advertise robot surgery but I think I would rather have a person fixing my heart or my family’s heart.

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      2. Blessings and do keep us posted.
        I once had computer guided surgery. It was sort of weird to listen it talking while I lay there in a daze.

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    1. Keeping good thoughts for your brother, Krista.

      On the weeding/gardening thread… I don’t mind the actual weeding, but if I could have a robot to pick up all the weeds/leaves/sticks that my weeding generates and get them into the bags and down onto the boulevard, that would be marvelous!

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    2. Krista, I’ll wish him as good an outcome and speedy recovery as Michael is having, which is very good indeed. To help me think of him, what’s his first name?

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