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  Robonaut 2 to the rescueMar 26, 2011 1:29 AM PDT | url
 
Added 1 new A* page:I have to thank Metruis, author of the Between Places webcomic, for pointing out to me that a common link banner size is 200x40, and I didn't have any that size for A*. Well, I do now:
 
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Others banners and icons, in somewhat less convenient sizes, can be found on the icons page. Thanks for the tip, Metruis!
 
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And thanks to my brother for tipping me off to the existence of Robonaut, a NASA/GM project working on a robotic assistant that can be used by astronauts to do things like perform exterior repairs when nobody feels like getting up and putting on a space suit. Most pertinently, the project's second unit, Robotnaut 2 (the "R2 unit," in case there was any doubt that there are some Star Wars fans at NASA), shown here with "his" blinged-out rover mounting, "Centaur 2"
 
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image by NASA (source)
 
has just been taken up to the International Space Station, where astronauts unpacked him and, well, posed with him for some eye-catching publicity / space hair photos:
 
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image by NASA (source)
 
Watch out, Cady! He's practicing fisticuffs! Well seriously though, here is the video of them unpacking him up there on the edge of space:
 
video on Youtube
view on YouTube
 
They haven't actually switched him on and had him doing stuff, so to see him in action, you'd have to catch his older test videos, for instance where the legless robot is swinging his arms around or--are you ready for this??--pushing buttons. Robonaut (2)! He's so hip, he even has his own YouTube channel, and I'm sure he Tweets like nothing else or whatever.
 
Apparently they're boxing him back up for a while until they actually figure out what to do with him, but at any rate he is meant to stay on the ISS and maybe eventually go on remote-controlled (?) spacewalks or something. Although of course what we really want to know is a) how good is his chess game and b) how long before he turns evil and starts crushing people's skulls? BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT ALWAYS HAPPENS PEOPLE.
 
Seriously though he is kind of neat. He even has video-out and USB ports--daaaang--and what looks like it might be a camera in his mouth grill...the better to see people with when he's crushing and eating them, no doubt.
 
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This new fancy Firefox 4 browser I've been so excited about seems less tolerant of the ancient cache control hacks I was using to make sure your browser always loads up the latest and greatest version of the A* news and comic when you come to the site, so I've added in what seems to be the proper way to do such things (ie the 'Cache-Control: "must-revalidate"' HTTP header in an .htaccess file on the server), which will hopefully do the trick. Uh but I guess I won't really know for reasonably sure until I do a few more updates. Next week! And don't forget to check out the update to my fairy tale Princess and the Giant comic on Sunday! Okay!
 
 
 
 
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