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NASA Robotics Space

MIT Helping NASA Build Valkyrie Robots For Space Missions ( 35

An anonymous reader writes: NASA announced that MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is one of just two institutions that will receive "R5," a six-foot, 290-pound humanoid robot also known as "Valkyrie" that will serve on future space missions to Mars and beyond. A group led by CSAIL principal investigator Russ Tedrake will develop algorithms for the robot as part of NASA's upcoming Space Robotics Challenge, which aims to create more dexterous autonomous robots that can help or even take the place of humans "extreme space" missions. While R5 was initially designed to complete disaster-relief maneuvers, its main goal is now to prove itself worthy of even trickier terrain — deep space exploration.
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MIT Helping NASA Build Valkyrie Robots For Space Missions

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    • What a coincidence! It just happens that the best physical form for a space robot is exactly the same as the evolutionary end product of millions of years of swinging in trees followed by millions of years of roaming around on grassy savannahs. Are legs really that useful in zero G? Only two arms when you could have three?

      Sadly, this seems to indicate that NASA is more interested in pandering to pop culture than in optimizing a space-based physical effector.

      • Are legs really that useful in zero G? Only two arms when you could have three?

        Yes, because even tracked vehicles have trouble going up 45 degree slopes. They want a robot that can climb hills, jump into pits, hang on to a irregular shaped asteroid, etc. You don't really think that this would just be used in space exclusively, do you?

        Your suggestion about three arms is interesting, although you can argue that it might already have 4, since it is quite imagine-able that the feet might have articulate fingers/toes.

        They aren't pandering to pop culture, it needs to be basically hum

        • Yes, I was thinking that everything would be designed for whatever the standard robot is. I don't actually expect humans to be involved in asteroid mining. Too dangerous. Too expensive to provide life support.

          Your point about 4 arms is good. It is "quite imaginable-able" that the feet would have articulate fingers/toes. Unfortunately, you thought of it and I thought of it, but NASA didn't. Given their woeful lack of imagination, it would have been better if NASA had just given a bunch of money to MIT

          • by jpapon ( 1877296 )
            Maybe you should look around a little before saying NASA has a woeful lack of imagination when it comes to robot design. Search for Robosimian, developed at NASA JPL.
            • S/he could also just look up any of the Mars rovers, they are also technically robots developed at NASA.

      • I would assume that remote control by telepresence/VR would be a major consideration for such a robot, as autonomous functioning in high-risk, non-standardized operations is probably not desirable. in which case having a human-like shape and range of motion radically improves the intuitiveness of the control system, greatly improving the effective agility and dexterity of the operator/robot combination.

  • VF-1 (Score:4, Funny)

    by Drey ( 1420 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @12:51AM (#50960341) Homepage

    I went to that link expecting to see mecha capable of transforming into fighter, battroid, and GERWALK modes; I was sadly disappointed.

  • by rwyoder ( 759998 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @12:53AM (#50960347)

    So the height/weight is designed to match the typical American proportions?

  • Is that you?

  • Am I the only one, who wonders if we just decided to send Ash along with our space truckers?
    • Personally, I would pay to watch Ash sent to Mars, to subsequently be forced out of an airlock

      http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.... []

      • Ehm, this was a reference to the movie Alien. In it, the android Ash followed secret orders of the evil corporation at the expensive of the ship's crew. The crew were referred to as space truckers, because the director (Ridley Scott) wanted to portray future space travelers as truckers. Not quiet sure how your reference to Pokemon fit the article about a "dexterous autonomous robots that can help [...] humans "extreme space" missions."
  • So, why does a robot need legs in zero g? I sincerely doubt the humanoid design was chosen on technical merits. Also, didn't Valkyrie get last place with 0 points at the DARPA robotics competition?

    • Perhaps so it can also be used in environments that are not zero G?

      I believe part of the concept here is to build the "go anywhere do anything" robot rather than build one kind of robot for exploring zero-G environments and another kind of robot for non-zero-G environments.

  • ...has a bad motivator. Better go with an R2. ;)

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