It was originally destined for the International Space Station in "The Robotic Manipulation", but Howard stole/borrowed it, then used it to unpack dinner, serve napkins, give massages and help him masturbate, which is when he gets it stuck and cannot de-program it because he would have to turn it on but the computer software thought that it was "holding a space screwdriver." It is assumed that he returned it after the episode, but not before he gets stuck again.
There is a very clear shout-out to the British sci-fi comedy "Red Dwarf", where basic on-ship maintenance is performed by skutters: robotic arms on self-propelled chassis, which are imbued with a basic level of AI, enough to make them quirky, temperamental, and bloody-minded to those who annoy them. Howard references this directly when he makes his robot arm deliver a snarky comeback to a sneer from Sheldon: rather than the American extended middle finger, it delivers a very unmistakeable British V-sign with two extended fingers. A skutter replies to insufferable crew member Arnold Rimmer with the same gesture in response to a sneering criticism about its dexterity and manual agility. The similarity is very obvious.