A robot and an astronaut shake hands… That might sound like the set up for a really cheesy joke, but in fact, it was a moment in history. Back in February of this year, a first occurred when Daniel Burbank. the commander of the International Space Station, shook hands with the first ever Robonaut. Controlled by ground crews, and currently lacking in full-body motion – they aint got no legs! – this does represent a big step forward in robotics.
As things stand, it is not yet clear if this represents a plan to “unman” space, or just supplement astronauts with humanoid machines that are capable of performing rote tasks and the more labor intensive aspects of space travel. But given the fact that space travel still requires adaptation and flexibility as much as calculations and precision, and that no amount of remote control can equal the thrill of actually being there, I’m thinking human astronauts are going to be around for a long time.
Check out this video of the Robonaut and Burbank making their historic handshake!