NASA has donated two humanoid robots to two universities for use in research.
The principal investigators in both projects “will serve as critical partners in NASA’s upcoming Space Robotics Challenge“, according to information from NASA.
The next great astronaut won’t go through g-force training, but bug tests and beta run. Granted MIT a humanoid robot for testing and development for future space missions. “We are excited to engage these university research groups to help NASA with this next big step in robotics technology development”. The machine was initially designed for disaster relief but the agency envisioned that the 290-pound machine could be used in future space missions, such as, manned missions to the red planet.
Before exploration happens, though, the robot needs to “learn” how to act in space. He and his fellow researchers have spent three years developing algorithms for a different 6-foot-tall humanoid (there are a disturbing number of these giant robots) as part of a government-sponsored competition. They also will receive as much as $250,000 a year for two years and have access to on-site and virtual technical support from NASA.
Now two of these six-foot tall robotic superheroes are coming to the Boston area: Northeastern University and MIT will each have a prototype to play around with. MIT’s group is led by principal investigator Russ Tedrake and Northeastern Univ.’s group is led by principal investigator Taskin Padir.
NASA gives a prototype of its Valkyrie robot to MIT for developing software for deep space missions. Tedrake, who is head of CSAIL’s Robot Locomotion Group, has extensive experience with robots. “These robots will start preparing the way for the human explorers and when the humans arrive, the robots and humans will work together building habs, laying foundation and just working together in that tight relationship”, said former project leader Nicolaus Radford. The hope is that the two robotics teams, selected by NASA based on their performance in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, will develop the algorithms these bots need to put their cool bods to use.
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