M.I.T. and Northeastern University are developing humanoid robots that will be capable of working with human astronauts in space. The first use for these robo-nauts could be a potential mission to Mars.
The robots are called the “R5 Valkyrie”, and were awarded to the two universities after a competitive selection process. NASA handed over the keys to one of it’s robo-nauts along with $250,000 in cash and a year’s help from it’s technical support team.
The goal of this exercise is to host a shared knowledge project in which NASA and universities can hope to overcome today’s present challenges to robotics in space; physical capabilities, software, artificial intelligence, and more.
The R5 Valkyrie won’t be the first humanoid robot in space. Robonaut and Robonaut 2 took a journey to the International Space Station in 2011, but, the R5’s mission to mars is likely to be a more intensive purpose driven journey.
There’s a long term plan to make robots a key part of NASA’s missions to space – potentially even travelling alongside space passengers as concierges or in flight assistants. In the near future, these robots are expected to conduct preliminary mission tasks before humans arrive at their destinations (similar to how we use the Mars Rovers today).
Advances in robotics, including human-robotic collaboration, are critical to developing the capabilities required for our journey to Mars. We are excited to engage these university research groups to help NASA with this next big step in robotics technology development.
- Steve Jurczyk, Associate Administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD)
Image Credit: NASA