NASA’s ground breaking humanoid robot, Valkyrie, will ‘join’ the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics early in 2016.
Valkyrie is one of the most advanced robots ever constructed. Weighing 125kg and standing 1.8m tall, it is a humanoid battery-powered robot, with sensors in its head, abdomen, arms, knees and feet. It has a ‘32 degree of freedom’ body (a waist that can rotate, a head that can tilt) and ‘6 degree of freedom hands,’ each with three fingers and a thumb.
Edinburgh Centre for Robotics is a £35 million joint initiative between the University of Edinburgh’s Schools of Informatics and Engineering, and Heriot-Watt University.
The news that the robot will be coming to Edinburgh was announced by Professor Sethu Vijayakumar, Director of the Centre, during an interview with the BBC World Service, 18 November 2015 (see link below).
Professor Vijayakumar told Newshour:
“The University of Edinburgh has been collaborating with NASA JSC on the design and control of the Valkyrie robot. We are lucky. We will be the only university in Europe which will be getting a copy of the robot.
“While the overarching drive behind Valkyrie is to make space missions cheaper and cost efficient by pre-deploying assets to the exploration target, our research will not be restricted to space applications. We will be looking at multi contact interactions in unstructured environments.
“We believe the technology we will develop can be useful in, for example, the care of the elderly, which involves close robot-human interaction, in assistive manufacturing technologies where you and the robot work collaboratively and in domains such as disaster first response scenarios.”
Professor Vijayakumar and colleague, Dr Maurice Fallon, will be leading the Valkyrie project within the School of Informatics. They expect the robot to enable researchers to make breakthroughs in humanoid control, planning and perception.
In addition to academic and research staff, PhD students will also have the chance to work with Valkyrie, as the University of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt University are also partners in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC).
Edinburgh Centre for Robotics captures the expertise of over 30 principle investigators of international standing from 12 cross-disciplinary research groups in the Schools of Informatics and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh and the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the Department of Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University.
Together their strategic aim is to supply the urgent need for skilled, industry and market aware researchers in Robotics and Autonomous Systems.
Research is conducted using state of the art humanoid and field robotic platforms, in interactive spaces with fabrication facilities for soft embodiments, embedded microsensors and dedicated computing. Centre partners include global companies in the oil and gas, assisted living, transport, defence, medical and space sectors.
There will be more news about the Valkyrie project in the coming months.