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Group photo of award winners

Chien-Liang Fok, Gwen Johnson, Luis Sentis, Nicholas Paine

Mechanical Engineering professor Luis Sentis and a team from the Human Centered Robotics Lab (HCRL) at The University of Texas at Austin have received the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) Elite Team Award from the Software, Robotics and Simulation Division. The award was given in recognition of the team's innovative design contributions to NASA's humanoid robot, Valkyrie.

The team led in the development of Valkyrie's compliant actuators as well as whole-body control software to enable semi-autonomous interaction with the environment. UT Austin's series elastic actuator, developed by HCRL PhD student Nicholas Paine, influenced the design of the linear series elastic actuators in Valkyrie's torso and ankles. Valkyrie was conceived to support astronauts in planetary missions and to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials in 2013. Both types of operation involve emergency response-centered tasks for which a high level of autonomy is essential.

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