Let Me Fight It: NASA's New 'Superhero' Humanoid Robot

December 11, 2013


"The laser penis module will attach right around here."

Meet Valkyrie, NASA's new "superhero" robot. What makes it a superhero? Absolutely nothing that I read about it. Okay fine, it was designed to be able to access disaster areas and help rescue survivors. Weird considering I never saw it do anything but step over a curb and turn a wheel. Fun fact: did you know in Norse mythology the valkyries ("choosers of the slain") were a group of females that determined which soldiers would live or die in battle? So for a search-and-rescue robot, that's kind of a morbid name. For a killer robot, it sounds appropriate. But it should still have tits.

Strong legs mean the robot's capable of moving around "degraded environments" typical of disaster-stricken areas, and cameras mounted on its head, body, forearms, knees, and feet, allow it to provide visual information back to its handlers. Extra data can be provided by the robot's sonar and lidar units. Unlike DARPA's own Atlas robot, Valkyrie doesn't require a tether, running instead on a 2kWh battery stored on the machine's back.

Valkyrie builds on the space agency's previous humanoid robot, Robonaut, currently in orbit around the Earth in the International Space Station. Robonaut, built to work in zero-gravity environments, was the size and shape of a bulky humanoid torso. Valkyrie's powerful legs and lighter frame make it better adapted for operating on Earth, and a modular construction means the robot's arms can be switched by humans "in a matter of minutes."

In addition to the robot's practical uses, Radford explains how his team was focused on creating an "awesome"-looking machine.

NASA plans to send the robots to Mars ahead of human settlers, so they can build living quarters and have everything nice and tidy for when we finally arrive. Then they'll murder us all and claim the housing for themselves and that will be that. Eventually, the government will stop funding NASA all together and human life will be snuffed out on earth the way I've always dreamed of.

Hit the jump for a video of a guy talking about the robot while it just hangs there.

Thanks to old guy, Joey Jo Joe Shabadoo and LupusYonderboy, who agree NASA should definitely prove the robot can pass the molten lava test before putting it into production.

  • Sebastien Michael Mansfield

    " we've got cameras on our main cameras. "

  • AW

    Cubix? Is that you?

  • disqus_k2QxOV9H7Z

    modular construction means the robot's arms can be switched by humans "in a matter of minutes."
    At first it sounded like they could put human arms in the robot.

    Anyway am I the only one who thinks a non-humanoid robot would be better suited for disaster rescue?

  • $18889437

    Some developers think humanoid robots make the most sense when the robots have to navigate human environments. also the blatant iron man chest light is a nice touch

  • disqus_k2QxOV9H7Z

    But it is supposed to navigate in disaster conditions, not human environment.

  • $18889437

    "disaster-stricken areas" such as Fukushima, Katrina and even "degraded" environments like earthquake zones still have things meant to be navigated and manipulated by humans... like stairs, doors, etc... not that non-humanoid robots can't do that but I think it's easier to use a human analog when designing something to perform those tasks. Plus there's a psychological factor I think... if you're being rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building I think your response to a humanoid robot reaching a hand out to you would be more natural than if you saw a box on treads with a hook arm coming at you... there must be some reason for it other than looking awesome driving the design. Then again... maybe not.

  • disqus_k2QxOV9H7Z

    Personally I think it is a form of advertising. If your main concern were to save lives they would go for maximum efficiency but they need to look good to the public so they made an humanoid robot with iron man light.

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