NASA’s New Superhero Humanoid Robot

Meet Valkyrie, NASA’s new “superhero” robot. What makes it a superhero? Absolutely nothing that I read about it. Okay fine, it was designed to be able to access disaster areas and help rescue survivors. Weird considering I never saw it do anything but step over a curb and turn a wheel.

Strong legs mean the robot’s capable of moving around “degraded environments” typical of disaster-stricken areas, and cameras mounted on its head, body, forearms, knees, and feet, allow it to provide visual information back to its handlers. Extra data can be provided by the robot’s sonar and lidar units. Unlike DARPA’s own Atlas robot, Valkyrie doesn’t require a tether, running instead on a 2kWh battery stored on the machine’s back.

Valkyrie builds on the space agency’s previous humanoid robot, Robonaut, currently in orbit around the Earth in the International Space Station. Robonaut, built to work in zero-gravity environments, was the size and shape of a bulky humanoid torso. Valkyrie’s powerful legs and lighter frame make it better adapted for operating on Earth, and a modular construction means the robot’s arms can be switched by humans “in a matter of minutes.

In addition to the robot’s practical uses, Radford explains how his team was focused on creating an “awesome”-looking machine.

NASA plans to send the robots to Mars ahead of human settlers, so they can build living quarters and have everything nice and tidy for when we finally arrive. Then they’ll murder us all and claim the housing for themselves and that will be that. Eventually, the government will stop funding NASA all together and human life will be snuffed out on earth the way I’ve always dreamed of.

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