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Greetings, Earthling: Human and humanoid robot shake hands in space, wowing NASA

Cape Canaveral, FL – Astronauts and robots have united in space with a healthy handshake. The commander of the International Space Station, Daniel Burbank, shook hands Wednesday with Robonaut. It's the first handshake ever between a human...


Cape Canaveral, FL – Astronauts and robots have united in space with a healthy handshake. The commander of the International Space Station, Daniel Burbank, shook hands Wednesday with Robonaut. It’s the first handshake ever between a human and a humanoid in space.

NASA’s Robonaut was launched aboard space shuttle Discovery last February. Crews have been testing it to see how it one day might help astronauts perform space station chores. The maintenance applications of the R2 Robonaut – a collaborative robot or cobot – were discussed in ‘I, Cobot’ feature in MRO Magazine’s September 2010 issue;  the story and photographs of the cobot can be found by searching for the term ‘robonaut’ in the Search box on the home page at www.mromagazine.com.

On Wednesday, ground controllers sent up computer software that enabled the robot to extend its right hand, fingers outstretched. Burbank took the mechanical hand and pumped it up and down. The astronaut says it was a firm handshake.

And he says Robonaut – the first humanoid in space – is quite impressive. It resembles a human from the waist up.