For the DARPA robotics challenge, NASA has decided to go all out this year. They have effectively designed and created the first robotic superhero, and even if it doesn’t win them first place in the challenge, it will hopefully save some lives one day down the road, as long as it doesn’t run into any kind of kryptonite or anything in the process. It is a good sized 6 foot tall and weighs 275 pounds, and could be mistaken for Iron Man in the middle of the night with the glowing orb at its center.
Creating this robot, named Valkyrie, was no small task for NASA. As part of DARPA’s challenge, they had to create a robot that could basically move just like a human being in situations such as driving a vehicle, climbing up and down a ladder, moving over different kinds of ground, and so on. The idea was to make Valkyrie as human-like as possible. Ultimately, NASA hopes to make Valkyrie less dependent on humans and more autonomous so that it can do most things with the least amount of human involvement. Currently its controlled by a remote.
Say Hello To Valkyrie
Just how flexible is Valkyrie? The folks at Spectrum IEEE, who did a large write up on NASA’s hero in training had this to say:
“…Valkyrie has seven degree of freedom arms with actuated wrists and hands, each with three fingers and a thumb. It has a head that can tilt and swivel, a waist that can rotate, and six degree of freedom legs complete with feet equipped with six-axis force-torque sensors.”
Valkyrie’s arms are also interchangeable and can be replaced rather quickly if one gets damaged, and several cameras are placed all over the robot allowing it to see pretty much everything there is to see.
Perhaps the only possible weakness to Valkyrie is the battery it requires; it only lasts an hour before it needs to be replaced. So Valkyrie could be in the middle of searching through rubble for survivors only to have the battery die. Battery issues or not, Valkyrie seems like a good idea. After all, it is designed to be sent into places to dangerous for humans to venture. I will admit, though, Valkyrie doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it as Superman or Batman. If anything, it reminds me of a Tom Cruise movie.
Do you see a day in the future when robots will actively help save lives?
[Image via CNN]