NASA engineers and scientists announced today that they have created a 6.2 ft tall humanoid superhero robot ‘Valkyrie’ that is capable of carrying out tasks considered too dangerous for people.
The robot weighs 125 kgs, has 44 degrees of freedom (movement in its joints), a battery backpack and, according to its creators, can do dynamic, dexterous and perception-intensive tasks in a variety of scenarios.
The NASA’s vision of the ‘Iron Man’ has interchangeable arms and is covered in soft cloth that also doubles up as protection in case of a fall, Vancouver Sun describes.
Which is more, the robot’s arms, legs and hips aren’t as flexible as a person’s, but they have the same moving pattern, which could be important for studying the limits of human motion on Mars.
“Likely NASA will send robots ahead of the astronauts to the [red] planet,” Nicolaus Radford, head of the Dexterous Robotics Lab at NASA, said in a video about Valkyrie.
“These robots will start preparing the way for the human explorers. And when the humans arrive, the robots and the humans will work together in conjunction.”
Radford claims that NASA’s Mars-bound robots will help people build houses and lay the foundations of civilization the Red Planet, which means these android helpers are taking a big step up from their predecessors that were tasked with chores such as vacuuming.
“Valkyrie, which looks so much like Iron Man it even has a glowing orb in its chest, will compete with other androids at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Robotics Challenge,” Mashable writes.
“The competition compares robots in categories such as strength and dexterity to determine which would be best to deploy in emergency situations that are too dangerous for people,” the publication adds.
Last year the agency launched on Mars its rover Curiosity that landed on the planet in August after hurtling through the pink Martian skies at the start of a two-year quest for signs the Red Planet once hosted key ingredients for life.
Curiosity, the first full-fledged mobile science laboratory sent to a distant world, was scheduled to touch down inside a vast, ancient impact crater.
Mission controllers burst into applause and cheered in relief as they received signals confirming that the rover had survived its perilous descent and arrived within its target zone at the bottom of a vast, ancient crater.
Soon after it landed the rover snapped the first color image of its surroundings while an orbiting sister probe photographed litter left behind during the rover’s daring do-or-die descent to the surface.
The $2.5 billion project is NASA’s first astrobiology mission since the Viking probes of the 1970s, and the landing came as a much-welcome success for a space agency beleaguered by science budget cuts and the recent cancellation of its 30-year-old space shuttle program.
“Curiosity had another busy day yesterday and she is asleep right now, getting ready for tomorrow,” Nasa Mission Manager Mike Watkins said. “Curiosity is still healthy, still what we call surface nominal mode and still in great shape,” he added.