NASA counting on humanoid robots for deep space exploration

Valkyrie Robot 4

PHOTO DATE: 12-12-13 | LOCATION: Bldg. 32B – Valkyrie Lab | SUBJECT: High quality, production photos of Valkyrie Robot for PAO | PHOTOGRAPHERS: BILL STAFFORD, JAMES BLAIR, REGAN GEESEMAN

As humanity moves outward into space, it will need to be prepared for risky and extremely hazardous environments such as those which crewed missions to Mars and asteroids will encounter. Having fully-operational robotic help ready to assist in dangerous tasks could be critical during long-duration missions beyond Earth. NASA is seriously considering this matter and it could usher in an age of new humanoid robots. “NASA is counting on robots to setup and care for deep space exploration facilities and equipment pre-deployed ahead of astronauts. Robots are also excellent precursors for conducting science missions ahead of human exploration,” Sasha Congiu Ellis of NASA’s Langley Research Center, told That’s why the agency is developing a six-foot-tall humanoid robot called “R5”. which was previously known as “Valkyrie”. The mechanoid weighs in at about 290 lbs. (292 kg). It was initially designed for use during disaster-relief missions. In November of 2015, NASA provided two R5 robots to university groups competing in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge (DRC). One robot is being tested by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) located in Cambridge, Massachusetts under its Robust Autonomy for Extreme Space Environments program. The second android was given to the Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts for its Accessible Testing on Humanoid-Robot-R5 and Evaluation of NASA Administered (ATHENA) Space Robotics Challenge.

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