November 19, 2015

“Advances in robotics, including human-robotic collaboration, are critical to developing the capabilities required for our journey to Mars...”

Robotic Trends 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. via NASA

'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. (NASA’s challenge is divided into a virtual competition using robotic simulations, and a physical competition using the robot.)

'Tedrake’s team, which was selected from groups that were entered in this year’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge, will receive as much as $250,000 a year for two years from NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directive (STMD).

'NASA says it is is interested in humanoid robots because they can help or even replace astronauts working in extreme space environments. Robots like NASA’s R5 could be used in future missions either as precursor robots performing mission tasks before humans arrive or as human-assistive robots actively collaborating with the human crew. 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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