Machines to compare notes online?

Jul 15, 2011

The best way for autonomous machines, networks and robots to improve in future will be for them to publish their own upgrade suggestions on the Internet. This transparent dialogue will help humans to both guide and trust them, according to research published in Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part I: Journal of Systems and Control Engineering, published by SAGE.

In his paper, Knowledge of : review and forward look, Sandor Veres of the University of Southampton's Faculty of Engineering and the Environment takes an engineering viewpoint of today's need for machines and systems with a greater degree of self-control. The leap to increased autonomy will be facilitated by machines and humans publishing systems information in a common language online, he suggests.

Autonomy is the capability of a system to pursue and fulfil its operational objectives without human intervention.

Today's automated systems already operate finely-tuned feedback loops in cars, aircraft, ships, manufacturing machines, chemical, agricultural and food production processes. Their functionality is supervised by human decision makers. Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems increase productivity in manufacturing, and control utility networks such as power, water/waste, gas and communications.

But some systems need to operate for extended periods of time without the possibility of high level human supervision. Various such as underwater survey vehicles, underwater robots, spacecraft, and semi-autonomous aerial vehicles and are all examples where loss of communication is either possible or inevitable: they require autonomous control for extended periods.

The next step beyond systems that need autonomy due to being cut off from human controllers is the concept of network autonomous systems. These benefit us either by cutting the amount of human input needed to employ fewer personnel, or by creating systems that operate beyond human limitations - for example at very high speed and precision.

But what does an autonomously operating technical system look like? According to Veres it has:

  • Some modelling of a changing environment;
  • learning various skills in feedback interaction with the environment;
  • symbolic recognition of events and actions to perform logic-based computation;
  • ability to explain reasons of own actions to humans; and
  • efficient transfer of rules, goals, values and skills from human users to the autonomous system.

The last three of these five desirable technical features might be achieved with the natural language programming (NLP) sEnglish system, (stands for 'system English', and pronounced as 's-english') which enables shared understanding between machines and their users.

NLP is a method that builds up the functionality of a machine or an autonomous system using human concepts found in natural language sentences to express a system's procedures and logic. Each NLP sentence corresponds to a conceptual graph. Conceptual structures are formal descriptions of human thoughts – independent of language. NLP is the simplest compromise between what feels like natural language and what is in fact computer programming.

The sEnglish system is already available so authors can publish self-contained conceptual structures and procedure sentences in a natural language document in English in HTML and PDF formats. The authors can place these documents on the Internet for autonomous systems to read and share.

Looking forward, Veres sees the intelligent system discuss its potential upgrades with its users, lifting this burden from users and manufacturers. Long after their sale, machines will read technical documents from the Internet to improve their performance. These documents can be published not only by their original manufacturer but by user communities.

"The adoption of a 'publications for machines' approach can bring great practical benefits by making the business of building viable in some critical areas where a high degree of intelligence is needed and safety is paramount," says Veres. "In these areas publications for machines can help develop the trust of customers and operators in what the machines do in various environmental situations."

Explore further: First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

More information: Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part I: Journal of Systems and Control Engineering July 15, 2011 doi: 10.1177/0959651811408502

Provided by SAGE Publications

4.8 /5 (5 votes)

Related Stories

Liverpool scientists to develop space robots with NASA

Jul 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 ...

Configure your own operating software

Aug 07, 2009

Remote maintenance systems that monitor the status of facilities and machines have always had to be configured manually, a laborious task. But now a new system can be easily adapted for a range of facilities with no need ...

Proxy Aviation Systems Unveils SkyWatcher

Jun 28, 2005

Proxy Aviation Systems recently unveiled SkyWatcher, a long endurance, low and medium altitude, multi-payload unmanned aircraft system at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's (AUVSI) demonstration ...

Recommended for you

First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

9 hours ago

A drone testing program in Nevada is off to a bumpy start after the first unmanned aircraft authorized to fly without Federal Aviation Administration supervision crashed during a ceremony in Boulder City.

Fully automated: Thousands of blood samples every hour

16 hours ago

Siemens is supplying automation technology for the longest and one of the most cutting-edge sample processing lines in any clinical laboratory. The line, or automation track, 200 meters long, in Marlborough, ...

Explainer: What is 4-D printing?

17 hours ago

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – is 30 years old this year. Today, it's found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can p ...

First series production vehicle with software control

17 hours ago

Siemens has unveiled the first electric series production vehicle with the central electronics and software architecture RACE. This technology, developed in the research project of the same name, replaces ...

Amputee puts limb system through its paces

19 hours ago

"Amputee Makes History with APL's Modular Prosthetic Limb" is the headline from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where a team working on prosthetics observed a milestone when a double amputee showed ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

wiyosaya
not rated yet Jul 15, 2011
And SkyNet becomes self-aware.
SteveL
not rated yet Jul 15, 2011
At least they won't be calling each other "Tard" this and "Tard" that like stupid humans do.
mrlewish
not rated yet Jul 16, 2011
At least they won't be calling each other "Tard" this and "Tard" that like stupid humans do.


Tard

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.