Posted in: SERVO Blog (12/13 at 10:24 AM)

NASA JSC Unveils ‘Valkyrie’ DRC Robot

Valkyrie (officially designated "R5" by NASA) is a 1.9 meter tall, 125 kilogram, 44 degree of freedom, battery-powered humanoid robot. A team from NASA's JSC in Houston, in partnership with the University of Texas and Texas A&M and with funding from the state of Texas itself, built the robot for the DRC, which will hold a preliminary competition later this month. JSC is a Track A team in the DRC; along with five other Track A teams with their own robots, JSC will be competing against Track B and C teams, each one of which will have an ATLAS robot from Boston Dynamics. In addition, Track D teams (which have no DARPA funding) will be entering their own robots.


The challenge created by DARPA involves tasks like walking over uneven terrain, climbing a ladder, using tools, and driving. This means that Valkyrie has to be capable of operating in the same spaces that a person would operate in, under the control of humans who have only minimal training with robots, which is why the robot's design is based on a human form. The overall goal of the DRC is to help drive innovation towards robots that are able to take over from humans directly, without needing any special accommodations. In that context, a human form makes sense because we're humans, and these robots will be doing the jobs that we don't want to be doing because they're too dangerous.