UMass Lowell students and researchers are programming one of only four robots in the world that NASA hopes will allow us to one day live on Mars.
For the next two years, “Val,” short for Valkyrie, will be studied and tested at the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center at UMass Lowell by researchers including computer science undergrad Jordan Allspaw and grad student Carlos Ibarra-Lopez. Under the guidance of NERVE Center Director Holly Yanco, the team is performing the research and programming to improve the robot's autonomy - manipulating tools, climbing a ladder and completing high-level tasks. Northeastern University is UMass Lowell’s research partner on the project.
NASA originally designed $2 million Valkyrie as a disaster-relief robot, but is now looking for outside expertise to turn her into a "space mechanic" in the hopes that the 6-foot-tall, 300-pound humanoid will help build a space station on Mars that humans can inhabit.