NASA’s humanoid robot, Valkyrie, has embarked on an exciting new mission in collaboration with Woodside Energy in Perth, Western Australia. Under a reimbursable Space Act Agreement, NASA aims to leverage Valkyrie’s capabilities to develop remote mobile dexterous manipulation skills for caretaking uncrewed and offshore energy facilities. This partnership not only benefits Woodside Energy but also has potential applications in NASA’s Artemis missions and other Earth-based robotics objectives. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of this collaboration and the impact it can have on both space exploration and terrestrial industries.
Enhancing Remote Operations and Safety
Through its collaboration with Woodside Energy, NASA aims to enhance remote operations capabilities, ultimately improving efficiency and safety in Woodside’s offshore and remote operations. The use of Valkyrie will provide valuable data and feedback to NASA, facilitating the advancement of robotic technology. This partnership builds upon the previous collaboration between NASA and Woodside, highlighting the value of reimbursable collaborations in pushing the boundaries of robotic capabilities.
Expanding Robotic Capabilities for Future Missions
NASA’s experience operating Valkyrie in Woodside’s facilities will contribute to the design and development of robots for challenging and hazardous conditions, such as those encountered in future Artemis missions on the Moon. The goal is to empower Earth-based operators to carry out vital activities on lunar and Martian surfaces, even in the absence of astronauts. By leveraging remotely operated mobile robots, astronauts can focus on complex tasks, while robots inspect infrastructure, maintain facilities, and utilize local resources.
Safety and Efficiency in Terrestrial Applications
Woodside Energy’s testing of advanced robots, including Valkyrie, in their terrestrial applications provides valuable data for NASA engineers. The lessons learned and insights gained will contribute to the use of advanced robots in hazardous environments on Earth. These insights have the potential to enhance safety and expand human capabilities, enabling exploration and work in diverse locations.
The Promise of Human-Scale Robotics
Valkyrie and other advanced mobile robots play a crucial role in enabling humans to remotely supervise dangerous tasks and alleviate mundane responsibilities. This principle applies not only in space exploration but also in terrestrial industries. Integrating robots into Artemis missions and partnering with commercial entities like Woodside Energy paves the way for the next generation of human-scale robotic capabilities.
Future Prospects and Collaborative Efforts
NASA plans to incorporate the software development work from Valkyrie into upcoming hardware releases and conduct operational demonstrations with Woodside Energy. This collaboration will showcase Valkyrie’s capabilities in relevant remote operational settings. By leveraging domestic and international partnerships, NASA is generating valuable data and lessons that will inform ongoing and future robotics and automation development for space applications.
The collaboration between NASA and Woodside Energy represents an exciting step forward in advancing remote robotic capabilities for both space exploration and terrestrial industries. By leveraging Valkyrie’s capabilities, NASA aims to enhance safety, efficiency, and human capabilities in challenging environments. The lessons learned and data gathered from this collaboration will contribute to the ongoing development of human-scale robotic systems and support NASA’s Artemis missions and the establishment of a long-term human presence on the Moon and beyond.