The closest robotics has come to a modern-day superhero is NASA’s
hotshot humanoid robot R5 Valkyrie. This battery-powered bipedal
bot can work alone in extreme environments without human
assistance. Valkyrie is named after supernatural characters from
Norse mythology who decided which warriors were rewarded in
the afterlife. The robot builds on many years of NASA tests and
feedback of previous robotic humanoids and features numerous
sensors and actuators (moving parts) designed to help it carry out
complex tasks. Its next mission is to Mars, with Valkyrie expected
to take its ;rst steps on the Red Planet before human visitors.
One of the robot world’s latest lunar
exploration rovers is ATHLETE
(All-Terrain Hex-Legged ExtraTerrestrial Explorer). Like a futuristic,
super-sized, six-limbed insect, this
rover can walk or roll over bumpy
moonlike surfaces. Complete with a
releasable grappling hook and a range
of excavation instruments, ATHLETE
is designed to move 100 times faster
than existing exploration rovers.
A robust, rugged, entirely electric
humanoid robot capable of operating
in degraded… environments.
Each arm has seven
joints and a group of
actuators for motion.
The plastic shell covering
on the leg includes fans
to keep the robot cool.
The limbs are
removable and can
be replaced quickly.
The bot’s head can
tilt and swivel around
like a human head.
The dark visor covers
a 3-D vision system
PREPPING FOR FUTURE
The Valkyrie team is constantly working to improve
the bot’s dexterity to enable it to work alongside
astronauts in preparation for future exploration.
Valkyrie’s upgraded version
includes modi;ed humanoid
hands to improve performance
on the job. Each hand has three
;ngers and a thumb to grasp,
manipulate, and work a variety
of objects and instruments with
precision and care. The actuators
allow the wrists to roll
easily, bringing further
freedom of movement.
A series of tests have pushed
Valkyrie to its limits. The robot
can drive, climb a ladder, use
power tools, and walk
through unstable terrain
without stumbling. This
will prove bene;cial
makes it to Mars.
foam armor encases
the robot’s body for
in the bot’s legs
fall on its front.
The bot’s heavyset
legs and wide feet
ensure balance when
the robot is walking.
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