NASA's Mars rover starts to think for itself
Uploaded AI software aims to speed NASA's analysis of rocks found on Martian surface
Computerworld - After seven years of working on the surface of Mars, NASA's Mars rover Opportunity has been upgraded to allow it to make some of its own decisions.
NASA announced Tuesday that its engineers this winter uploaded artificial intelligence software to enable the Mars rover to decide on its own whether it wants to stop and analyze rocks spotted during its travels across the Martian surface. The space agency noted that the upgrade will provide a good test of robotic autonomy, which it hopes to use more fully in future NASA space missions.
"We spent years developing this capability on research rovers in the Mars Yard here at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory," said Tara Estlin, a senior member of the Artificial Intelligence Group at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement. "Six years ago, we never expected that we would get a chance to use it on Opportunity."
NASA has two rovers on Mars -- Spirit and Opportunity. The twin rovers have been slowly trekking across the planet's surface for years, sending images and data back to NASA scientists.
The robots are among the most advanced technology ever built at the Jet Propulsion Lab, said Bruce Banerdt, a project scientist for the Mars Exploration Rovers, said in an earlier interview.
Overall, Opportunity rover has had better luck than its counterpart, Spirit.
In January, NASA announced that Spirit is permanently stuck in Martian dirt. Nonetheless, NASA scientists hope that Spirit can conduct experiments from where it sits.
Meanwhile, Opportunity, is still mobile.
The artificial intelligence software is designed to Opportunity's computer system recognize rocks that meet specified, pre-programmed criteria, such as a rounded shape or certain color. If the object meets specific criteria, the rover then will use its narrower-angle panoramic camera to take multiple images of it.
"It's a way to get some bonus science," said Estlin.
The new software is called Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science, or AEGIS.
Previously, scientists at NASA would have to determine when rocks needed more analysis after studying photos sent back from the rover.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Government IT in Computerworld's Government IT Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
If you use ‘password,’ one the worst passwords, as your password, fail to keep antivirus protection updated and don’t bother to deploy security patches to close critical vulnerabilities, then maybe you should consider working for the cybersecurity-clueless federal government; you’d fit right in, according to Senator Tom Coburn's cybersecurity and critical infrastructure report.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses
- IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center
- IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Simplify and Consolidate Data Protection for Better Business Results
- Learn about IBM® Tivoli® Storage Manager Operations Center, which provides advanced visualization, built-in analytics and integrated workflow automation features that leapfrog traditional backup...
- HP HAVEn: See the big picture in Big Data
- HP HAVEn is the industry's first comprehensive, scalable, open, and secure platform for Big Data. Enterprises are drowning in a sea of data... All Government IT White Papers
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of...
- Mobile Apps and Devices Slash Customer Cycle Time Consolidated Engineering Laboratories' field employees used to collect data on triplicate forms that were sometimes hard to read and difficult to manage. After...
- All Government IT Webcasts