- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

When does Skynet become operational? NASA has unveiled a towering new humanoid robot named Valkyrie, which will compete in a robotics challenge put on by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) — and perhaps assist humans on future missions in space.

The DARPA event, which will take place in late December, pits 17 teams against one another to see which one has created the kind of “superhero robot” that eventually could take over difficult and dangerous tasks normally assigned to humans — with little direction.


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“We really wanted to design the appearance of this robot to be one that when you saw it, [you’d say:] ‘Wow. That’s awesome,’” Nicolaus Radford, a team leader in the NASA JSC Dextrous Robotics Lab, said in a video by IEEE Spectrum’s robotics blog.

Valkyrie is officially genderless, according to NASA, Business Insider reported, although the name actually refers to women from Norse mythology who determined which soldiers would die on the field of battle.


Female or not, the robot is strong and versatile. It operates “without a tether, has 44 degrees of freedom, or axes of rotation in its joints, giving it flexibility of movement,” according to Business Insider. “The robot can tilt and swivel its head, rotate its waist, and has knees and legs that can bend. It is loaded with cameras and sonar sensors to help it move through rubble and avoid obstacles.”

Valkyrie “has a little bit of a superhero feel to it, because honestly, that’s what DARPA’s requesting: They want a superhero robot,” Mr. Radford told Spectrum.