Woodside trials NASA’s humanoid robot as offshore caretaker

Man in NASA shirt stands with humanoid robot while conducting demonstration to company representatives (Woodside)
Woodside Energy team receiving orientation and training from Woodside trainer Harley Pritchard with NASA support from Alex Sowell and Misha Savchenko (Image: NASA/JSC)

US space agency NASA’s humanoid robot ‘Valkyrie’ is embarking on a new mission with Woodside Energy in Australia, half a world away from its home at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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As part of a reimbursable Space Act Agreement with Woodside Energy in Western Australia, NASA plans to use a Valkyrie robot to develop remote mobile dexterous manipulation capabilities to accommodate remote caretaking of uncrewed and offshore energy facilities. Woodside Energy will test the resulting software and provide data and feedback to NASA, helping accelerate the maturation of robotic technology.

Under this second reimbursable collaboration with Woodside, Valkyrie will advance robotic remote operations capabilities which have potential to improve the efficiency of Woodside’s offshore and remote operations while also increasing safety for both its personnel and the environment. In addition, the new capabilities may have applications for NASA’s Artemis missions and for other Earth-based robotics objectives.

NASA plans to leverage experience operating Valkyrie in Woodside’s facilities to learn how to better design robots for work in dirty and hazardous conditions, like those found on the Moon at the long-term worksites and habitats that will be established as part of future Artemis missions.

“We are pleased to be starting the next phase of development and testing of advanced robotic systems that have the potential to positively impact life on Earth by allowing safer operations in hazardous environments,” says Shaun Azimi, lead of the dexterous robotics team at NASA Johnson.

“These demonstrations will evaluate the current potential of advanced robots to extend the reach of humans and help humanity explore and work safely anywhere.”

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To deliver the robot, the NASA dexterous robotics team from Johnson travelled to the Woodside headquarters in Perth, Western Australia. The team prepared the Valkyrie robot and conducted training with the Woodside team on its operations.

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