Liverpool scientists to develop space robots with NASA

July 19, 2005

Scientists from the Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science (RIACS) at NASA and the University of Liverpool are working together to develop robotic systems used in space that will reduce the need for human space travel.

Scientists from RIACS and computer specialists from the University of Liverpool are investigating ways of improving technology in order to reduce the reliance on humans for space travel and develop the potential for robotic space missions.

University scientists are developing technology that will enable robots to ‘think’ autonomously, so that they might conduct entire space missions without human supervision.

Professor Michael Fisher, Director of the University’s Verification Laboratory, explained: “Autonomy is a major cost driver for space exploration since human missions require large earth-based teams for support. There are also significant risks posed to humans sent into space.

“We are currently studying new forms of software that aim to improve the accuracy of decisions made by space robots so that missions can be completed with greater success. We are also analysing software that will enable robots to work alongside humans in space.”

The RIACS scientists will meet with computer specialists at the University of Liverpool this week to discuss the possibilities for joint human and robot deep space missions and investigate the potential of new software to enable such missions.

Autonomous software components used in space are difficult to verify or control due to the diverse environments that they encounter in the cosmos. It is considered essential by space experts to attempt verification of autonomous software before deployment, as these systems are among the most complex and error prone to develop.

Source: University of Liverpool

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