The Robonaut is a robotic astronaut first developed about 10 years ago by DARPA and NASA with the goal of assisting human space exploration or, ultimately, conducting non-human space exploration altogether. Though the original version never actually made it into space it seems that version 2.0 is being developed by NASA and GM.
The new Robonaut R2 is more dexterous, stronger, smarter, faster and more efficient. It is supposed to automate tasks that are dangerous, dull, repetitive or otherwise challenging for human astronauts. One such task, for example, is space walking which requires long and tedious pre- and post-space-walk procedures for all human astronauts. Robots can potentially cut out operation time, minimize risk and even improve the quality of the work carried out during the space-walk missions.
the Original Robonaut Video
the new R2 Humanoid Robonaut Video
There is hardly any doubt that robots can be used for cheaper, faster, safer and arguably more efficient space exploration than humans can. In the next several decades both fighter-jet and space-ship pilots alike, are probably going to be gradually replaced by the ever-creeping pace of technology in the form of computers and robots.
Ultimately, all kinds of human operators (or drivers) will be replaced robotic ones. (Hope you are not making a living by operating some kind of a heavy machine which is almost certainly going to be automated i.e. robotized in the next decade or so)
The real question, however, is:
Will humans be eventually replaced by robots altogether?
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