The Valkyrie robot, also known as the R5 robot, is a humanoid robot designed by NASA to perform disaster-relief maneuvers in space missions. Recently NASA Awards Two R5 Valkyrie robot prototypes to two universities – MIT and Northeastern University – for advanced research and development work.
In June 2015, NASA published the news NASA looks to University Robotics Groups to Advance Latest Humanoid Robot. After a competitive selection process from groups entered in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge, two robotics groups from MIT and Northeastern University were chosen to fulfill this task, their proposals selected are:
- Robust Autonomy for Extreme Space Environments: Hosting R5 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, led by principal investigator Russ Tedrake
- Accessible Testing on Humanoid-Robot-R5 and Evaluation of NASA Administered (ATHENA) Space Robotics Challenge — Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, led by principal investigator Taskin Padir
These two university robotics groups will receive as much as $250,000 a year for two years and have access to onsite and virtual technical support from NASA. The funding comes from STMD’s Game Changing Development Program, which is charged with rapidly maturing innovative technologies that will one day change the way NASA explores space
‘Advances in robotics, including human-robotic collaboration, are critical to developing the capabilities required for our journey to Mars,’ said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ‘We are excited to engage these university research groups to help NASA with this next big step in robotics technology development.’
Humanoid robots are valuable in space mission because they can help the astronauts to do part of their jobs or even replace them to work in the extreme space environments. In a space mission, the humanoid robot can arrive at the camp before human beings and perform precursory tasks; when the astronauts arrive, the robot can still work as an assistant and collaborate with the human crews.
Here is a video about the NASA R5 Valkyrie Robot: