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NASA Prepares Humanoid "Valkyrie" for Trip To Mars

May 06, 2016 10:17 AM EDT
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The Humanoid called Valkyrie is one of the most advanced robots by NASA, created for their trip to Mars. It is also said to be the most advanced in the world. It just arrived at the University of Edinburgh to "study". The experts there will teach Valkyrie new commands and skills, part of its preparation to work on the surface of Mars.

The 6-foot tall, 235 kilogram humanoid was constructed by NASA from the R5 robotic lineage. The robot resembles a human being; some report even said it resembles the advanced Star Wars robot C3P0. NASA through the Space Technology Mission Directorate, awards funds to universities to improve their robots.

The experts at the University of Edinburgh's Edinburgh Centre for Robotics led by Maurice Fallon, Shibin Alex Li and Sethu Vijayakumar will enhance Valkyrie in terms of humanoid control, motion planning and perception. The university said "PhD Students and researchers from Edinburgh Centre for Robotics will carry out research using the robot."

According to NASA they are continuously improving and upgrading their robot in preparation for deeper space explorations and the trip to Mars. "New humanoid robot initially designed to complete disaster-relief maneuvers; however, its main goal is to prove itself worthy of even trickier terrain - deep space exploration."

Valkyrie was presented to the press on May 4 and it sure did showcased some of its abilities.

BBC was one of the firsts to get up-close and personal with the robot. Reporter Victoria Gill said the programmers at the university "could push the boundaries on how humans and robots work together."

From the video released by Edinburg's official YouTube page, Valkyrie is seen ascending on a flight of stairs, completing simple tasks such as picking up a box and of course, walking. In another video, the Valkyrie is seen standing on one foot.

The robot is equipped with advanced sensors enabling it to map its surrounding. But experts say that robotics is not easy, several times during the demonstration, the robot went to a complete stop and the professors explained that if one sensor is faulty it could create a bigger problem and prevent the humanoid from working properly.

NASA believes that by working with academic talents and other agencies they will be able to develop more technologies required for the success of space missions like the journey to Mars. "Over the next year, Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA will continue to seek industry and university partnerships to assure the agency has the capabilities it needs on our journey to Mars, while helping America maintain its leadership in the technology-driven global economy."

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