TECH
11/12/2013 05:12 GMT

Nasa's Valkyrie R5 Robot Will Compete In The DARPA Robotics Challenge Looking Like A Superhero

So far the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) has spawned the such terrifying beasts such as the Terminator-esque Atlas.

So it's comforting to see that Nasa's entry looks like it would probably fight on the side of superheroes.

This is Valkyrie - officially R5- a 1.9 meter tall, 125kg humanoid designed with helping out in disaster areas in mind.

nasa valkyrie

Probably not in the shops by Christmas...

Nicolaus Radford, of the NASA JSC Dextrous Robotics Lab, said: "We really wanted to design the appearance of this robot to be one that when you saw it (you'd say) 'Wow. That's awesome.'"

"When we were designing the robot, we were thinking about the competition from day one, and we wanted a very modular system.

"Specifically with the arm, we can yank one bolt and one connector, and we can take the arm off. It happens in a matter of minutes.

In the DRC, Valkyrie will have to navigate an obstacle course including tasks like tackling uneven surfaces, climbing ladders and even driving.

As it is designed to mimic humans much emphasis has been placed on creating articulate joints with a wide range of motion.

Nasa hope that one day it will go to space. Radford said: "NASA saw a considerable overlap between what the DRC was trying to accomplish and NASA's goals as an agency.

"We want to get to Mars. Likely, NASA will send robots ahead of the astronauts to the planet.

"These robots will start preparing the way for the human explorers, and when the humans arrive, the robots and the humans will work together."

Valkyrie has 44 degrees of freedom, or axes of rotation in its joints.

At the moment its battery pack can only provide an hours worth of power.

It is unlikely that any of the robots created fir this DRC will be capable to replace humans in the field but it will provide a crucial stepping stone in the advancement of the technology.

It will compete in the Track A category of the DRC against Track B and C teams who will be using Atlas robots but running their own code.

Track D team are those that have received no DARPA funding.

The first of Nasa's robots was RoboSimian, a bot built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory which looks like a monkey and moves on all fours.