NASA is planning to send its 290-pound humanoid robot R5, also known as Valkyrie, to college to prepare it for its future mission to Mars, according to Engadget.
The space agency intends to send two of its units in total, one to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the other to Northeastern University in Boston. The schools will test and develop the robots in order to prepare them for travels to Mars and other extraterrestrial locations, The International Business Times reported.
"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 (STMD) at NASA Headquarters.
The two universities in question were selected due to their performance in the Robotics Challenge, which is hosted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and challenges participants from around the world to build robots and put them through difficult tests, according to CNET.
The R5 robot, which stands at 6 feet tall, was originally designed by NASA to assist in operations that involved disaster relief, but they eventually shifted their focus onto extraterrestrial exploration missions.
"Likely NASA will send robots ahead of the astronauts to the planet. These robots will start preparing the way for the human explorers and when the humans arrive, the robots and humans will work together building habs, laying foundation and just working together in that tight relationship," said former project leader Nicolaus Radford.