Scientists at the University of Edinburgh are working on a 6-foot, 20-stone robot that they one day hope NASA might bundle up into the foetal position and send to Mars, in preparation for the eventual human mission to the red planet.
It's a proper co production between the Uni and the American space experts, with the hardware being supplied by NASA and the Edinburgh based robotics division tasked with the complex task of fitting it out with a brain, heart, and enough courage to agree to a one-way mission to a foreign planet.
Professor Sethu Vijayakumar from the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics explained: "At the moment the robot is a pretty basic shell which can walk up a set of three small steps and can reach out and grip something and pass it on to someone. It reacts if you push against it, either swaying or taking a step back."
"The big challenge will be getting Valkyrie to interact with people; you have to have some pretty adaptable algorithms. The dream is to have something that can be a co-worker for astronauts on space missions, for example," he added optimistically. The hope is that Valkyrie will be able to work alongside people within five years. If not, well, 20 stones is pretty damn heavy.
If, for example, there are three small steps on Mars that need something carrying up and slowly handed to a person, it'll be just the thing to have. [Herald]