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NASA’s Humanlike Robot Astronaut Valkyrie at ECR for Trials

NASA’s humanlike robot astronaut “Valkyrie,” known as R5, is being perfected during experimental trials at the Edinburgh Center for Robotics.



NASA’s humanlike robot astronaut Valkyrie, known as R5, undergoes advanced trials at the Edinburgh Center for Robotics
Image Credit: NASA

Edinburgh, UK– The NASA humanoid robotic astronaut “Valkyrie,” technically known as R5, is being tested and refined to eventually explore the surface of Mars. R5 is beginning the next phase of its mobility and sensory testing at the Edinburgh Center for Robotics (ECR). To further R5’s ability to navigate and move within variable environments, ERC is working to enhance its abilities to consistently achieve natural human movement.

Valkyrie’s arrival at ERC is a major step forward in the future human exploration of Mars, and potentially the ability to remotely navigate and manipulate disaster zones on Earth. NASA’s goal is making Valkyrie its first fully capable humanlike “robot astronaut.” NASA’s considerable ambitions for Valkyrie now require special trials only ERC experts and facilities can provide.

Valkyrie Going Beyond Valhalla

The robot astronaut Valkyrie, known as unit R5, holds NASA’s greater aim to emulate the unit’s symbolic mythic namesake by helping the creation of its own version of Valhalla on Mars. Among the countless tasks R5 could undertake, its greatest foreseeable role is helping to establish a human colony on Mars. R5 looks to perform the required research to better understand Mars impact on human physiology.

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When constructing permanent human habitats for Mars, its suitability must be tested using humanoid form. R5 may also provide a great deal of assistance in building and maintaining such a colony. Though why not take another, non-humanoid form?

R5 and the Benefit of Human Form

The greatest importance of R5’s design is its user friendliness to those who are less familiar with the application of current robot’s, few of which are humanoid in shape or application. The unit by design is an intuitive coworker for its fellow astronauts.

With that unique characteristic, R5’s potential expands exponentially when considering the challenges of exploring space. However, creating a robotic unit possessing all natural human form and movement is no small task. R5 incorporates a highly complex design to achieve that end, and has a foreseeable crucible ahead.

The Challenges of Human Movement

There are many challenges that come with the creation of a fully functioning humanoid robot designed for incalculable use. According to NASA, Valkyrie contains 44 movable joints to co-ordinate its motion and balance.

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Moreover, R5 has an advanced sensor array for scanning and mapping its surrounding environment with precision. Furthermore promoting its accurately navigating any area it encounters. If R5 lives up to NASA’s grand desire, its possibilities for use are endless.

Edinburgh Center for Robotics Putting a Tough Design on Trial

R5 stands roughly six feet tall, weighing a robust 300 pounds, seeking to achieve precise human like movement. However, R5 requires intricate training to do so. Edinburgh Center for Robotics’ specialized facilities will expose the unit to variable environments, refining its movement abilities. 

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Additionally, R5 is furthering its capacity for operating in humanoid form during advanced kinesiological testing. As well as enhancing its sensory perception capabilities.

R5’s Potential Beyond the Final Frontier

R5 is not only a Mars rover in human form, it’s designers also have more terrestrial purposes in mind. R5’s optimization for durability operating within inhospitable alien settings make it a natural alternative to aide emergency efforts on Earth.

R5’s potential role during emergency scenarios closer to home are numerous. For example, it may be indispensable in biologically contaminated areas, large chemical disasters, or nuclear incidents. Above all, R5 would be useful in any situation necessitating human-like manipulation in an inhospitable environment.

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Definite Durability

Valkyrie’s creators during its 2013 debut were strongly emphasizing the unit’s design prioritization on operational durability, ease of assembly, ease of disassembly, and minimal vulnerability when being shipped. Space exploration technologies differ significantly in their delicacy, and R5’s creators also sought to ensure the unit could ship expeditiously without fear of experiencing damage in transit. 

R5, in short, is designed to last. When also considering its other incredible abilities, Valkyrie is clearly more than just another beefy chap exploring alien landscapes.

Write to Paul K. DiCostanzo at

Sources: BBC World Service, Tech Times, NASA, Edinburgh Center for Robotics


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Paul K. DiCostanzo is the Managing Editor for TGNR. He is a noted public speaker, an emerging historian of the Second World War, a vocal advocate for Crohn’s Disease/Ulcerative Colitis, and highly regarded interviewer. Paul K. DiCostanzo is Co-Host for the A.D. History Podcast. The A.D. History Podcast explores world history of the last 2000 years in an unprecedented fashion; with each episode covering a 10 year period beginning in 1AD, until reaching the present day. Ultimately finding the forgotten, as well as overlooked threads of history, and weaving a tapestry of true world history. Paul is author of the reader submitted Q&A column: WW2 Brain Bucket. The Brain Bucket answers readers submitted questions on all things regarding the Second World War. Paul has served as Managing Editor for TGNR since March 2015. Prior to TGNR, Paul has a background in American National Security and American Foreign Policy.