Humanoids for lunar and planetary surface operations
This paper presents a vision of humanoid robots as human's key partners in future space exploration, in particular for construction, maintenance/repair and operation of lunar/planetary habitats, bases and settlements. It integrates this vision with the recent plans for human and robotic exploration, aligning a set of milestones for operational capability of humanoids with the schedule for the next decades and development spirals in the Project Constellation. These milestones relate to a set of incremental challenges, for the solving of which new humanoid technologies are needed. A system of systems integrative approach that would lead to readiness of cooperating humanoid crews is sketched. Robot fostering, training/education techniques, and improved cognitive/sensory/motor development techniques are considered essential elements for achieving intelligent humanoids. A pilot project in this direction is outlined.