DARPA has a robotics challenge, currently being met by Boston Dynamics and their T80- ah, heh, their ATLAS robot. Unsurprisingly, a robot being built by the same people who want to build a death ray hasn’t inspired a lot of confidence, even if it turns out ATLAS is a bit more clumsy than originally advertised. Still, NASA building a robot is a bit more reassuring, especially when it looks like Iron Man crossed with Ultraman.
Here’s your first look at Valkyrie, courtesy of IEEE Spectrum:
The most interesting thing about Valkyrie is that it’s pretty obvious that NASA wants to fire this thing into space, and that’s obviously been the guiding principle of their design. For example, you can remove Valkyrie’s left arm by disconnecting a bolt and a connector, flip the hand with a simple procedure, and you’ve now got a right arm. Although it only has four fingers, so it can’t flip you off.
Similarly, Valkyrie is battery-powered, unlike Atlas, and while each battery is roughly the size of a cinder block and is only good for an hour, that still gives it an advantage compared to a tethered robot.
Valkyrie is the next expansion of NASA’s interest in robots. Robonaut, for example, is currently pitching in on a few space stations. And, frankly, we trust NASA if for no other reason than they can trick this thing onto a rocket and blast it into space if it goes rogue. The best Boston Dynamics can do is sic their disturbing cheetah robot on Atlas, and he might conquer and ride it. So, yeah, let’s all back NASA on this one.