For years people dreamed of a world where robots lived alongside humans as workers, sidekicks and friends. Today humans most often envision a future where robots work collaboratively with people.

“As a species, humans have always had an interest in projecting ourselves into distant places. We started with voice — that was the telephone. Next were images, better known as the television. And robotics is the next step,” says Robbie Mandelbaum, a robotics expert and CTO for Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories.

While humans travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere, exploring the deepest corners of the solar system remains a job for robotic systems.  These space exploration vehicles, thousands of miles from Earth, must operate for years without physical human intervention.

“We’re trying to build robots that go where it is too hard for people to go and do what is too hard for people to do,” said Gill Pratt…

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