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Nasa Gives MIT a Humanoid Robot to Develop Software For Future Space Missions

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The Valkyrie robot.

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration is providing robots to two university research groups as part of its upcoming Space Robotics Challenge.

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Tuesday announced that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) will be one of two university research groups to receive a 6-foot, 290-pound humanoid robot.

The CSAIL team, lead by principal investigator Russ Tedrake, will use the robot, called "Valkyrie" or "R5," to develop software as part of NASA's upcoming Space Robotics Challenge. Tedrake's team recently took part in the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Robotics Challenge, and will now bring the expertise they honed teaching a robot to walk, drive, turn valves, and more for that challenge to enabling robots to perform similar tasks in space.

The goal of NASA's challenge is to create more dexterous autonomous robots that can help or even take the place of humans on "extreme space" missions. Robots such as R5 could be used in future missions as either the advance guard for human astronauts, performing tasks before the humans arrive, or working alongside humans. The R5 was initially designed for disaster-relief maneuvers, but its main goal now is to operate in hostile space environments.

"Advances in robotics, including human-robotic collaboration, are critical to developing the capabilities required for our journey to Mars," says NASA's Steve Jurczyk.

From MIT News
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