In Austin, Texas, robotics startup Apptronik has unveiled its new humanoid robot named Apollo. This robot, designed for mass production, has unique characteristics and can be used not only in warehouses but also in space missions on the Moon and other planets.
Apollo is 1.7 meters tall and weighs 72.6 kg, which brings it close to the size of an average person. It is capable of lifting weights up to 25 kilograms and runs on electricity. Unlike hydraulic systems, which are considered less safe, the Apollo has a 4-hour battery that can be replaced to provide a working day of 22 hours.
Design and functionality
The designers at Argodesign who worked on the development of Apollo took into account the “uncanny valley” effect, where people are uncomfortable with the appearance of human-like robots. They equipped Apollo with features that should inspire human trust. The robot is equipped with digital panels on its chest that display information about battery status, the current task, and other parameters.
History of creation and partnership with NASA
Before founding Apptronik in 2016, the team worked at the Human Centered Robotics Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. The scientists also participated in the development of the Valkyrie robot for NASA as part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge between 2012 and 2013. Valkyrie served as a prototype for Apollo, adding unique features to its design that allow it to function in an environment designed for humans.
Outlook for Apollo
Initially, Apollo will be used in logistics, doing physically demanding work in warehouses to improve supply chains. However, the Apptronik team is considering broader applications for their robot, including exploration of the moon, Mars, and other objects in space.
Apptronik is one of NASA’s partners in developing humanoid robots. Eventually, Apollo or its modifications could be used in space missions to perform dangerous and complex tasks, reducing the risks for human crews. The robot could first be sent to the International Space Station and then to the surface of the Moon.
A NASA robotics official expressed hope that humans will have versatile robots working in space within the next 10 years. This opens up new opportunities for space exploration and reducing risks for astronauts.