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NASA’s Valkyrie Robot Getting Tested For Mars Human Colonization Mission

First Posted: Mar 21, 2017 05:52 AM EDT
NASA’s Valkyrie Robot
NASA has reportedly built four six-foot Valkyrie (R5) robots weighing almost 290 pounds each.
(Photo : Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has developed special humanoid space robots. These will be sent on advanced space missions to Mars to prepare the Red Planet for human colonization.

NASA has reportedly built four six-foot Valkyrie (R5) robots weighing almost 290 pounds each. The rugged humanoid robots, which cost around $2 million each, have been built to operate in extreme human-engineered conditions. According to NASA, the name Valkyrie has been taken from the Norse mythology.

Notably, the R5 robots were initially designed and developed by the Johnson Space Center Engineering Directorate as part of the 2013 DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials. Back in 2015, NASA selected Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University and Scotland's University of Edinburgh in an open competition to work further on the robotic technology to build an advanced humanoid robot capable of withstanding the Red Planet.

The researchers at the Northeastern Universiy have already tested their robot model at the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center. According to Tech CrunchMurphy Wonsick, a PhD student from the Northeastern University, said that they are developing high-level capabilities to enable NASA's Valkyrie perform more than just move its limbs. Wonsick added that the humanoid robot will be able to move around, make decisions autonomously as well as accomplish tasks.

The three universities will compete with each other along with other 17 teams using their work at NASA's Space Robotics Challenge for a $1 million prize. The competition will see the finalists compete in a virtual challenge scenario that will land Valkyrie on Mars.

"In the not too distant future, R5 has arrived on Mars along with supplies ahead of a human mission," NASA's media material read, as noted by Tech Times.

In order to win, the Valkyrie (R5) robot from each team will be required to effectively repair the damage caused by a dust storm, deploy a new solar array panel and also align the communication antenna.

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