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NASA‘s humanoid robot, Valkyrie, stands as an impressive figure at 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing in at 300 pounds. Its name comes from the female figures in Norse mythology. Designed to function in damaged human-engineered environments, this machine is being put through its paces at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas.

  • Robotic Possibilities: With the right software, humanoid robots like Valkyrie could function like humans and use the same tools. NASA’s Dexterous Robotics Team Leader, Shaun Azimi, envisages these robots taking over risky tasks in space such as cleaning solar panels or inspecting malfunctioning equipment. This way, astronauts can focus more on exploration and discovery.
  • Development Partners: In a bid to explore the potential of humanoid robots for terrestrial purposes, NASA is partnering with robotics companies like Apptronik which is based in Austin, Texas.
  • Ongoing Developments: Apptronik is developing Apollo, another humanoid robot, intended to handle tasks in warehouses and manufacturing plants such as moving packages and stacking pallets. With a launch plan set for early 2025, Apollo has been designed to outdo humans in endurance, capable of working 22 hours a day with just a quick battery swap.

Apptronik’s Chief Technology Officer, Nick Paine, and CEO, Jeff Cardenas, believe Apollo’s capabilities will grow with advancements in software. From warehouses and manufacturing floors to retail and delivery, Apollo could eventually function in “unstructured spaces,” including space. Shaun Azimi sees these terrestrial robots adapting to the demands of space, helping NASA identify the key areas to invest in to make such an adaptation possible.

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