“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.”
Valkyrie has 44 degrees of freedom, or axes of rotation in its joints, meaning it’s a relatively flexible machine in terms of movement. Its power source is a battery stored in a backpack that can provide it with about an hour of juice.
Its sensors include sonar and LIDAR, as well as head, arm, abdomen, and leg cameras so operators can see whatever the robot is doing from multiple viewpoints.
The DRC is designed to help evolve machines that can cope with disasters and hazardous environments like nuclear power plant accidents. Participants will be presented with tasks such as driving a utility vehicle, walking over uneven terrain, clearing debris, breaking through a wall, closing a valve, and connecting a fire hose.
NASA, however, sees the DRC as part of its mission to explore space.
“NASA saw a considerable overlap between what the DRC was trying to accomplish and NASA’s goals as an agency,” says Radford. “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.”
The DARPA challenge gets going this month with a preliminary competition. Check out more details on Valkyrie in the vid below.
(Via IEEE Spectrum)
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