NASA To Show Intelligent Space Robots In Action At Ames "Marscape"

Sep 28, 2005

NASA will showcase two intelligent robots on Monday, October 3, in the outdoor 'Marscape' at NASA Ames Research Center, located in California's Silicon Valley.

The two robots – 'K-9' and 'Gromit' – are smart enough to make decisions about how to achieve objectives on a planet or moon without detailed instructions from human beings. Researchers will also demonstrate 'mobile agent' software that may someday help robots and human beings on Earth, the moon and Mars communicate with each another.

"To efficiently explore the moon and Mars, flight crews will have to be much more self-reliant than before," said David Korsmeyer, chief of the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA Ames. "Development of such self-reliance requires machine intelligence, coupled tightly with human direction," Korsmeyer explained.

Eventually, robots may work together to prepare landing sites, habitats or resources on extraterrestrial sites, according to scientists. Robots and human beings will form teams on moons and planets to explore them, ventured Korsmeyer.

NASA Ames computer scientists are developing additional intelligent systems that can operate seamlessly with human ground and flight crews.

Not only will robots and computers be more self-sufficient because they will be able to plan ahead, but they will be able to work more efficiently and safely with their human crewmates – even enabling the flight crews to manage spacecraft health autonomously, reducing dependence on earth-based mission support staff, according to scientists.

"We are developing capabilities to allow humans and robots to operate competently and efficiently together in harsh, partially understood environments," said Alonso Vera of NASA Ames. "Candidate missions for robots include constructing lunar habitats, constructing large space structures, and performing science measurements for Earth or space science," Vera noted.

Robot-human communications 'mobile agent' software comes in several types, according to Bill Clancey of NASA Ames.

"The key thing is that the explorer will talk with the computer mobile agent software about science observations being made," said Clancey. "There are three specifics that the explorer relays to the agent – the name of the location, which sample bag the explorer is using to collect samples, and a narration of contents of the bag and the geologic context."

During future planetary exploration, this kind of data will be relayed by personal agent software to others on the science team, both on the planet's surface and back on Earth, according to Clancey. Information will be stored in a database in a Mars or planetary human habitat.

The personal agent software will send this data via e-mail to the Earth-bound science team. The software also automatically will transmit images taken by the astronauts to their planetary habitat and to Earth.

The robots and mobile agent research is funded by the Software, Intelligent Systems and Modeling Program, part of NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.

Copyright 2005 by Space Daily, Distributed United Press International

Explore further: CAT scan of nearby supernova remnant reveals frothy interior

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

DARPA to Atlas contest hopefuls: Time to cut the cord

Jan 21, 2015

Super Bowls. World Cups. Marathons. Wimbledon. Months and days are marked off by fans and supporters for big events and, for robotics watchers, June cannot come fast enough. The DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals ...

Robot pens bond with grandpas, corporate execs

Jan 17, 2015

You call this evolution? Software-driven handwritten signatures are yesterday. In 2015, we can use technology to the point where we not only turn to humans to make robots that look human but we turn to robots ...

Recommended for you

The tell-tale signs of a galactic merger

7 hours ago

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this striking view of spiral galaxy NGC 7714. This galaxy has drifted too close to another nearby galaxy and the dramatic interaction has twisted its spiral ...

User comments : 0

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.