Out of This World – NASA’s Valkyrie, The Humanoid Robot - Apollo Mapping
Posted on August 1st, 2023

Out of This World – NASA’s Valkyrie, The Humanoid Robot

Here at Apollo Mapping, we’re of the opinion that robots are one of the coolest technologies around. They come in all shapes, sizes and functionalities, from the smallest remote-controlled robot crab, to underwater robots helping us explore the deep ocean. No matter what their function, robots never cease to amaze us. This month, we’re going to learn more about a specific robot, NASA’s Valkyrie, which has the potential to revolutionize space exploration and beyond.

The name ‘Valkyrie’ was pulled from Norse mythology whereby Valkyries are females who guide the souls of the dead to Valhalla. NASA’s namesake was first designed and built by the Johnson Space Center Engineering Directorate for the 2013 DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials. Valkyrie is an electric bipedal humanoid robot, designed to operate in degraded and dangerous environments. Valkyrie stands over 6 feet tall, weighs in at 300 pounds, and costs nearly $2 million to produce, making it an intricate and robust robotic structure.

Watch Valkyrie in action! (Credit: IHMC)

The robot’s design incorporates a wide range of sensors, cameras and dexterous hands, enabling it to perceive and interact with its environment. These capabilities allow Valkyrie to autonomously perform essential tasks – such as extravehicular maintenance or exploration on distant celestial bodies – making it ideal for future space missions.

After rigorous testing in three robotics labs across the U.S. and Europe, Valkyrie is ready to take on a new mission. As part of the Space Act Agreement with Woodside Energy in Perth Australia, they will use Valkyrie to develop remote dexterous manipulation capabilities to maintain unstaffed or offshore energy facilities. These tests aim to evaluate the robot’s ability to navigate, manipulate objects and interact effectively with its surroundings. Through the trial, Woodside will provide NASA engineers with valuable feedback and data to enhance the robot’s performance in the future, and perhaps even improve its performance on the upcoming Artemis missions.

Eventually, remotely-operated robots like Valkerie will navigate lunar and Martian landscapes even when astronauts are not physically present. This collaboration between humans and machines opens up new possibilities for astronauts to focus on critical tasks while delegating repetitive or lower priority objectives. Though Valkyrie’s primary purpose lies in space exploration, it offers potential for missions closer to home as well. The robot’s remote capabilities could also enable safer operations in dangerous environments here on Earth.

NASA’s Valkyrie robot represents a significant milestone in humanoid robotics and stands as a testament to human ingenuity and the unwavering quest for innovation. As we look to the future, the knowledge gained from Valkyrie’s maturation will undoubtedly find practical use both on Earth and in space. We’re excited to follow the Valkyrie’s development and watch as it pushes the boundaries of robotic technology.

Katie Nelson
Geospatial Ninja
(303) 718-7163

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