NASA’s humanoid robot heads to Australia for testing

The Valkyrie robot could be used during Artemis and other space missions.
Loukia Papadopoulos
NASA's humanoid robot heading to Australia.jpg
NASA's humanoid robot heading to Australia.

NASA 

NASA’s Valkyrie humanoid robot is heading to Australia from its home base at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for extensive testing. The move is part of a reimbursable Space Act Agreement with Woodside Energy in Perth, Western Australia.

This is according to a press release by NASA published on Thursday.

Woodside Energy will test the machine’s software and provide data and feedback to NASA particularly as it relates to developing remote mobile dexterous manipulation capabilities to accommodate remote caretaking of uncrewed and offshore energy facilities. 

“Valkyrie will advance robotic remote operations capabilities which have potential to improve the efficiency of Woodside’s offshore and remote operations while also increasing safety for both its personnel and the environment. In addition, the new capabilities may have applications for NASA’s Artemis missions and for other Earth-based robotics objectives,” said the NASA statement.

NASA hopes that the tests conducted in Woodside’s facilities will teach the agency how to better design robots for work in dirty and hazardous conditions like those found on the Moon and other planets.

Some activities to be undertaken by the robot include inspection and maintenance of infrastructure and plants that leverage resources and materials to produce new items. These activities could one day enable astronauts to live off the land in space. 

“We are pleased to be starting the next phase of development and testing of advanced robotic systems that have the potential to positively impact life on Earth by allowing safer operations in hazardous environments,” said Shaun Azimi, lead of the dexterous robotics team at NASA Johnson. 

“These demonstrations will evaluate the current potential of advanced robots to extend the reach of humans and help humanity explore and work safely anywhere.”

Valkyrie and other advanced mobile robots have the potential to allow humans to supervise dangerous work remotely and to offload dull and repetitive tasks. As such, they are key tools to enhancing missions such as Artemis and helping humanity build a long-term presence on the lunar surface and one day on other planets like Mars. NASA also plans to use the software development work done on Valkyrie on upcoming hardware releases.

NASA’s dexterous robotics team from Johnson also traveled to the Woodside headquarters in Perth, Western Australia in order to deliver the Valkyrie robot and conduct training with the Woodside team on its operations, said the NASA statement.

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