The evolution of humanoid robots and artificial intelligence continues to indicate a future where humans will increasingly work with – or be replaced by – their technological avatars.
One such robot that represents grand promises for making a giant leap with humans is NASA’s Valkyrie humanoid robot which continues to receive upgrades that its creators expect to take it to Mars as soon as the 2030s.
The Valkyrie concept was first unveiled to the public in December, 2013, as seen in the first video below. At the time it was being presented to participate in DARPA’s Robotics Challenge, where it did not fare well at all versus its competition – it scored zero points – being bested by that year’s winner SCHAFT, developed by Google.
Nevertheless, it has been billed as one of the most expensive humanoid robots ever created, employing more than 50 people at NASA, working two shifts for a total of 22 hours per day.
Subsequent versions eventually delivered it into the hands of several universities, including Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, then on to Northeastern in the United States where it will now spend time with developers there as part of NASA’s newest program to utilize university research to propel Valkyrie in DARPA’s competition.
While the robot still stands at 6’2 and weighs north of 250 pounds, it does appear to be more streamlined. It is now being touted as “one of the most advanced humanoid robots in the world.” You can see its progression throughout the video documentation from Edinburgh here, as well as in the latest video posted below where it is presented to an audience at Northeastern University.
Whether or not Valkyrie will fulfill its grand mission to explore deep space and help prepare Mars for human astronaut arrival – and, presumably, future colonization remains to be seen.
Do you think this is money well spent? Or is space exploration best pursued outside of government control, if at all? Please leave your thoughts below.
Image Credit: Northeastern University