A new robot developed by General Motors and NASA for the International Space Station uses the same tools and performs many of the same tasks as human astronauts. Although the robot is far from cylindrical, it is named R2, short for Robonaut 2.
The 300-pound R2 won't be taking any steps of its own, as it consists of a torso, arms, and head--no legs. GM joined in the project to develop technology for next-generation assembly-line robots.
R2 will be heading for the ISS this September, catching a ride on the space shuttle Discovery. It will work inside, in the Destiny Laboratory. Although NASA suggests it could be modified for external work, the station already relies on another robot, Dextre (built by the Canadian Space Agency), which consists of two long arms to perform tasks outside of the station.
Correction, 1:27 p.m. PDT: This story initially misidentified which robot was built by the Canadian Space Agency. The Canadian agency built the Dextre robot already in use on the space station.