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NASA: Humanoid Robot Valkyrie Designed for Journey to Mars Prepares for Testing

Mar 20, 2017 10:58 AM EDT
Robotics Competition Held In Florida
NASA's humanoid robot Valkyrie will soon be put to test. Researchers "educating" the robots will subject the machine to a Martian-like environment to test its capabilities in surviving harsh environments.
(Photo : Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

NASA's humanoid robot developed for the journey to Mars is consistently working towards improving its intelligence and other capabilities. Valkyrie the robot prepares to step up as a Martian-like testing is set.

NASA's R5 series robot costs about $2 million. Currently, three of them are being "trained" by different universities in various aspects of space living, such as survival in extreme weather and harsh environments. Valkyrie is a descendant of NASA's R5 lineage at about six feet and 290 pounds.

"They've done all of the hardware and we're developing these high-level capabilities so Valkyrie does more than just move limbs," Northeastern PhD student, Murphy Wonsick said in a statement.

University of Edinburg, Northeastern University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are the three chosen institution to educate the humanoid robots for the journey to Mars. The three were chosen in an open competition.

The Northeastern University tested their humanoid at the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center. The place is filled with obstacle courses used to educate drones and robots.

"She can autonomously make decisions, move around and accomplish tasks," Murphy Wonsick, a PhD student fro Northeastern said in an interview via RT.

But the current testing is just the tip of the iceberg for Valkyrie. The "ultimate" test is scheduled this summer. NASA will conduct another open competition, where applicants will fight for $1 million to put the humanoid in a Martian scenario. The successor of Valkyrie is expected to be to humanoid robots that will set foot on the red planet.

Experts say that NERVE is an ideal environment for Valkyrie to harness its skills especially the on-board vision features and the bipedal locomotion. The environment at NERVE will also put to test the humanoid's navigation skills.

But until the scheduled testing, Valkyrie is still safely attached and being handled with care due to its astronomic price tag.

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