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Humanoid Robots Being Tested for Space Missions

NASA’s R5 robot, which is NASA's newest humanoid robot and was built to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge.

The U.S. space agency has given two universities humanoid robots for testing to see how they might be deployed in future space missions.

NASA is interested in robots as either replacements for or assistants to humans in extreme space environments.

The two R5 robots will be tested at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northeastern University, according to NASA. Those universities were selected based on their performance at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Robotics Challenge.

The R5 stands at just over than 1.8 meters tall and was originally designed to help in disaster relief. It also goes by the name Valkyrie.

The two universities will receive $250,000 per year for two years. The R5 robots will eventually compete in an upcoming “Space Robotics Challenge,” in the hope the universities can develop better software allowing the robots to be used in space missions in a more autonomous way, NASA said.

“Advances in robotics, including human-robotic collaboration, are critical to developing the capabilities required for our journey to Mars,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA.

“We are excited to engage these university research groups to help NASA with this next big step in robotics technology development.”

Here's a short video about the robot: