Valkyrie robot arrives in Edinburgh for improvements

Supplementary content information

Photo of researchers with the Valkyrie robot

Experts will seek to improve the physical and computational abilities of a 1.8 metre, 125 kg machine - named Valkyrie after the female spirits of Norse mythology - in a collaboration between NASA and the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics.

Currently, the humanoid machine can walk on two legs and perform basic movements, such as holding and manipulating objects. Researchers in the UK will work to give the Valkyrie a more sophisticated set of skills, enabling it to better understand and respond to its surroundings. The scientists and engineers will seek to improve the robot's handling and walking capabilities, and use Valkyrie's sophisticated on-board sensors to help it make sense of its environment, and improve its manoeuvrability. Researchers will also aim to further develop the robot's ability to interact closely and safely with humans and other machines.

The Valkyrie is the only robot of its type in Europe, and one of three prototypes in the world. NASA hopes to equip the Valkyrie to go to the Red Planet many years before astronauts are able to make the journey, for pre-deployment tasks and to maintain assets on Mars. Valkyrie's human-like shape is designed to enable it to work alongside people, or carry out high-risk tasks in place of people.

The Valkyrie project is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and is conducted at the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, a joint initiative between the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University.

The news of Valkyrie's arrival received widespread media coverage including the Daily Mail and BBC.

Reference: PN 24-16