AI News, NASA Awards R5 Valkyrie Robots to MIT and Northeastern

NASA Awards R5 Valkyrie Robots to MIT and Northeastern

At the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals this summer, we heard from NASA that they were preparing to send twoValkyrierobots to U.S. universities “for active research of high-level humanoid behaviors” through a competitive selection process.

note that they refer to Valkyrie as “R5” even though “Valkyrie” is a way cooler name: NASA is interested in humanoid robots because they can help or even take the place of astronauts working in extreme space environments.

The low-level motion primitives that were developed for the ATLAS robots at the DRC were a very important building block toward this goal, but Tedrake is now looking forward to “our chance to finish what we’ve started.” In addition to improving Valkyrie’s high-level reasoning, there’s also a lot of potential for more robust (and even useful) interaction with the environment.

We definitely agree that a major weakness of the DRC robots is that (with a few exceptions) they weren’t really designed to work off belay, and most teams did not have any confidence that their robot would be able to recover from a fall.

We will achieve this goal by (1) establishing a tight collaborative environment among our institutions (Northeastern University (NEU) and the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML)) and NASA’s Johnson Space Center, (2) leveraging our collective DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) experience in humanoid robot control, mobility, manipulation, perception, and operator interfaces, (3) developing a systematic model-based task validation methodology for the Space Robotics Challenge (SRC) tasks, (4) implementing novel perception based grasping and human-robot interaction techniques, (5) providing access to collaborative testing facilities for the SRC competition teams, and (6) making the developed software available to the humanoid robotics community.

Successful completion of this project will not only progress the technological readiness of humanoid robots for practical applications but also nurture a community of competitors and collaborators to enhance the outcomes of the SRC to be administered by NASA in 2016.

What Happened to NASA's Valkyrie Robot at the DRC Trials, and What's Next

The NASA JSC presentation at RSS was supposed to have been given by Valkyrie program manager Nic Radford, but he ended up not being able to make it at the last minute.

The Human Centered Robotics Lab at UT Austin provided expertise in the design of rotary series elastic actuators and inspiration for the design of the linear series elastic actuators on the robot's ankles and torso.

In particular, the linear series elastic actuators were inspired by the UT-SEA design developed during Nick Paine's thesis as a high performance series elastic actuator.

UT Austin also provided expertise on developing robust force controllers of the series elastic actuators and thorough testing on torque tracking and joint position impedance control.

•After July, a lot of time was spent on developing soft goods as opposed to software development, which the team admits was probably not the best way to focus their resources.

They would later discover the culprit: a network traffic shaping tool that they'd added to their code and that ended up blocking data from the operator to the robot.

Valkyrie's networking issue was fixed in time for the last event of the day (opening the three doors), which meant the bulk of Valkyrie's opportunities for scoring points were missed.

In practice (mock DRC Trials back at JSC), Valkyrie was reliably scoring 6-8 points, and if they'd had the hard tasks on Day 1 instead of Day 2, they would have identified the issue and been able to fix it in time for the easier tasks.

The robot will get to Mars early, before any humans, and then be 'assistively teleoperated' into assembling structures and exploring so that everything is prepared for the eventual arrival of some weak and fragile humans.

Atlas (robot)

this is where we are right now.'[1] Atlas is based on Boston Dynamics' earlier PETMAN humanoid robot, and has four hydraulically-actuated limbs.[3] Constructed of aluminum and titanium, it stands approximately 5.9 feet tall, weighs 330 pounds (150 kg), and is illuminated with blue LEDs.[1][3] Atlas is equipped with two vision systems – a laser rangefinder and stereo cameras, both controlled by an off-board computer – and has hands with fine motor skill capabilities.[3] Its limbs possess a total of 28 degrees of freedom.[3] Atlas can navigate rough terrain and climb independently using its arms and legs, although the 2013 prototype version was tethered to an outside power supply.[3] In October 2013 Boston Dynamics uploaded a video showing Atlas could withstand being hit by projectiles and balance on one leg.[4] In 2014, Atlas robots programmed by six different teams competed in the DARPA Robotics Challenge to test the robot's ability to perform various tasks, including getting in and out of a vehicle and driving it, opening a door, and using a power tool.

Atlas is intended to aid emergency services in search and rescue operations, performing tasks such as shutting off valves, opening doors and operating powered equipment in environments where humans could not survive.[1] The Department of Defense stated in 2013 that it had no interest in using the robot for offensive or defensive warfare.[1] In the 2015 Darpa competition of robotics Atlas was not able to complete all eight tasks as follows: Atlas was unveiled to the public on July 11, 2013.


In the DRC 2013 trials, the robots will need to perform disaster response operations such as driving a utility vehicle, traveling dismounted across rubble, removing debris from doorway, opening doors, climbing ladders, using power tools, locating and closing valves near a leaky pipe and connecting and using a hose.

Great achievements have come from competitions for centuries, from the invention of the pocket watch for longitude calculations to Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, from the introduction of the potato to the development of canning.

In 2004, DARPA held the first autonomous vehicle grand challenge, offering $1million prize money for a vehicle that could complete a 150 mile desert course.

DARPA offered a $2million prize for a repeat challenge in 2005 and this time all but 1 of the 23 finalists travelled further than 7.32 miles and 7 teams completed the course.

In July of 2013, the first round of simulated trials was held to winnow down the 26 teams from 8 countries who had qualified to compete in the Gazebo VRC simulated environment.

After successfully completing 3 simulated disaster response tasks using Gazebo, the finalists should be able to transition their algorithms to ATLAS robots, built by Boston Dynamics for the physical DRC.

“The simulation work that we’re doing is really part of a broader effort to build a common ecosystem of software tools and libraries that everyone can use.”

unfunded teams from anywhere who have a humanoid and aren’t afraid to test it. The qualifying teams in the 2013 round will go on to compete again in December 2014, performing the same type of tasks, but with greater difficulty.

NASA unveils Valkyrie, a 6 Foot 'superhero robot'

NASA has unveiled a 6 foot Super hero Robot which is named as "Valkrie" A team of engineers at NASA's Johnson Space Center built this robot. It has 44 degrees of freedom. It can be used...

NASA Valkyrie carrying out whole body manipulation

The key thing is that the activity of the operator is so low. Note that the mouse is mostly stationary except for clicking 'accept'. The task autonomy is carrying out most of the work. (playback...