We recently had the opportunity to visit a major resource, MASS Robotics, located in the Boston area that is available to support and advance the robotics community. This independent non-profit organization serves as an innovation hub for robotics in a facility designed to foster cooperation and collaboration for groundbreaking startups as well as established existing technology organizations. We came to MASS Robotics as part of a concluding session of a robotics congress hosted by Robotecca to see one of the Valkyrie class robots undergoing testing in this facility. This $2 million robot will be supporting missions to Mars once it is ready for service.
Under development since 2013, Valkyrie is a wonderful lesson in the evolution of an advanced robot to serve multiple purposes in a wide range of mission environments. It is 6’2″ tall weighs about 300 pounds. It is modular to facilitate easy repair and simple transportation as well as provide functional flexibility when in the field. It has: numerous sensors and detectors to make it aware of its environment; a dual-source power supply to allow for extended operation; 44 degrees of freedom or unique motions to closely mimic the humans it will be assisting on Mars; communications for robot-to-robot as well as robot-to-mission-control operation. It is truly an engineering marvel.