NASA has awarded a couple of prototype humanoid robots to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and North Eastern University research groups for development work. Initially, NASA’s R5 robots were conceived for the disaster relief movements. But, they are seen as perspective tools in order to aid astronauts in the future Mars expeditions. These robots could assist or replace humans in the intense environments, as per a NASA press release.
The advances in robotics such as human robotic collaboration are dangerous to develop the abilities needed for the journey to Mars, stated Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s associate administer of Space Technology Mission Directorate. He stated that they are excited to engage with the university research groups in order to help NASA with the next big step in the robotics technology development.
The research groups at these universities were chosen through the DARPA (Defense Advanced Projects Agency) Robotics Challenge. These groups will receive an amount of $250,000 in the annual research funding for a couple of years. They will have onsite as well as virtual technical help from NASA.
The R5 robotic units will be a part of the future NASA Space Robotics Challenge. Apart from the virtual robot simulation, this challenge engages a physical competition, which will test the humanoid robots in the real world trials. NASA claims that it hopes to develop more autonomous and dexterous robots.