NASA to Send Humanoid Robots to College

Hardly the typical vision of a model student, the latest high-tech admittance to MIT and the Northeastern University of Boston is 6-feet tall, weighs 290 pounds and goes by the names Valkyrie and R5. This new student is a robot, developed by NASA’s JSC team who have sent Valkyrie out into the world of academia to prepare it for the extreme environments it would have to handle in the process of space work and exploration.

Designed as part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge to develop robots that would be able to assist humans in crisis situations, R5 was revealed to the world back in 2013 when it was put through a series of tasks, that while mundane to a human are challenges to a humanoid robot. The end-goal of Valkyrie’s development team was to send it to Mars, to pioneer technologies that would allow for manned missions to Mars to go ahead. By cooperating with fellow entrants of the DARPA Robotics Challenge to combine R5 hardware with their AI and software developments, they hope to give Valkyrie a future in space.

The two teams selected to work with the R5 are MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory’s “Robust Autonomy for Extreme Space Environments” and Noetheastern University’s “Accessible Testing on Humanoid-Robot-R5 and Evaluation of NASA Administered (ATHENA) Space Robotics Challenge.” Both of the teams will be provided $250,000 per year for the two-year scheme to put towards their research as well as access to the units themselves.

They share the joint aims of entering their systems and algorithms into NASA’s Space Robotics Challenge, which will see both teams R5 units compete in a number of activities performed by astronauts in space, such as operating an airlock and ladder to reach a terrestrial surface and repair or replace damaged components on complex equipment. All of these are part of a process to see the R5 into a role of assisting astronauts on missions with tasks too dangerous for humans. Maybe in future send out whole armies of R5 units as maintenance assistants and exploration units to all manner of moons and planets.

Who knows, the future of space exploration could be in the hands of this slick Iron Man-like robot, and I for one look forward to the day we see humanoid robots that can operate on two legs as well as a human.

Eve: Valkyrie Pre-Alpha Registration Ongoing

The world of virtual reality is ever-expanding and what better way than to have a Triple-A game, released by the Sci-Fi experts over at CCP Games, as a launch title for the Oculus Rift? Earlier this year CCP Games announced that the title was beginning registration for Pre-Alpha for Eve Online and Dust 514 players, the latter being somewhat of an unintentional joke as you can make a free Dust 514 account using your PSN account simply by going to dust514.com. That same pre-alpha registration for Valkyrie is still ongoing bearing in mind that the VR title is slated to require a powerhouse PC to be able to play, as mentioned in a previous article here at eTeknix and as stated by CCP Karuck on the Eve Valkyrie forums:

“We haven’t announced any minimum/recommended specs yet, but due to the incredibly heavy demands VR puts on a system (steady 90 fps at very high resolutions, stereo view) I can tell you the requirements will be higher than EVE’s :)” – CCP Karuck

What is known for certain is that the pre-alpha requires, at a minimum, an Oculus Rift DK2, and given the sheer quality of the gameplay video revealed at Eve Fanfest 2015, it’s no wonder that the game has the hardware requirements that it does, being a VR title.

While Eve: Valkyrie does not have an official release date (based on the Oculus Rift’s consumer version release date), you can still register for the pre-alpha if you have an active Eve Online or Dust 514 account, as well as an Oculus Rift DK2, by going to www.evevalkyrie.com/prealpha.

First Alpha for Eve Valkyrie Requires a Powerhouse PC to Test Out

Fans of Eve Valkyrie with lower PC specs will be extremely disappointed with the news that the first Alpha for the title will require a powerhouse PC to be able to run it. CCP is reaching out to users with PC that are able to run the title at ultra settings, so if your PC doesn’t meet the required specs, bad luck.

“I can tell you for the first alpha test, it’s going to be quite high,” Sigurdur ‘Siggi’ Gunnarsson, Valkyrie’s lead programmer stated. “We’ve already had to do a lot of optimisation to get the game running, what you see today. But we need to do a lot more before we launch the game. The alpha test’s going to be pretty high spec.”

It isn’t quite clear what type of PCs CCP is targeting, but Gunnarsson stated that users with one of the latest NVIDIA 900 series or AMD 200 series graphics cards will be “pretty safe”. The trailer also provides a bit of a tease for players to go out and spend their money on a new graphics card.

Thank you PCGamesN for providing us with this information

Oculus Rift Not Needed for EVE Valkyrie


Hilmar Petersson, CEO of CCP announced that people were playing without Oculus Rift since there was a limited number going around at the development studio. When asked if the game could launch with both VR and non-VR versions he replied: “It could be a game like that, absolutely.”

Being a stand-alone version and only a multiplayer, not interacting with the EVE universe as much as Dust 514 does, the game may see versions on quite a few platforms, including current and next gen consoles.

However it’s to early to be saying anything definitively one way or another. The game isn’t due out until sometime next year, possibly around the time the consumer version of Oculus Rift gets released. What there is to point out is that the VR experience is “the core” of what Valkyrie is trying to achieve.

The Valkyrie idea grew out of a tech demo that turned heads internally and then turned heads externally when it was shared at the Eve FanFest. Now the game is currently being shaped by a team of 20 CCP members from Newcastle, led by former senior producer of Mirror’s Edge, a “somewhat of an expert in tight, motion sickness-inducing gameplay” as Petersson stated.

The game is announced to be released in 2014 and could be a major turnaround to how MMO and gaming alike is experienced.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmNQEiJUthc[/youtube]

Thank you NextPowerUp and Eurogamer for providing us with this information.

Image and video courtesy of NextPowerUp.