Researchers are developing Robonauts to perform repetitive or dangerous tasks aboard the space station, so human astronauts don't have to. Humans can tele-operate the robot or program it to do some things autonomously. Kind of like an intern, however, R2 is both working and learning at the same time. Since it first flew to space in 2011, it hasn't done a lot of helpful tasks. Instead, it's undergone a number of experiments checking its ability to push buttons, flip switches, and use tools that people normally operate. In 2012, NASA announced R2 did its first helpful bit of work, checking air flow in the ship. It's also used the station's RFID inventory scanner.