NASA’s exploration of harsh extraterrestrial sites is made possible by development of machine intelligence that is coupled closely with human direction. NASA continuously performs tests and simulations of new robotic systems that, when successful, lead to reduction in cost associated with human space travel.
(Picture source: www.nasa.gov )
One major focus of development is on Autonomous software components. NASA’s Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science (RIACS) and the University of Liverpool joined together in 2005 to explore ways of improving robotic capabilities that would reduce reliance on humans for future space missions. An increase in internal decision-making power of space robots reduces the need for large earth-based teams of human supervisors as well as reducing the exposure of humans to the risks of space. Due to the diverse environments encountered in the cosmos, autonomous software components are difficult to verify. Therefore, extensive testing of such software is necessary before deployment.
To further expand the capabilities of independent robots, NASA is also making progress in improving robot-robot and robot-human communication. The design and testing of ‘mobile agent’ software by researchers at NASA presents the possibility that humans and robots will operate competently and efficiently as teams in the future. NASA aims for robots to eventually work together in preparing the landing sites, habitats, and resources needed on extraterrestrial sites.
The extensive research and testing performed by NASA often transfers to benefits in industry. Improvements in autonomy and communication of robotic systems designed for deployment in space will hopefully translate to improvements in self-sufficiency and collaboration of robotic systems in industrial settings.
RobotWorx is supportive of space exploration and testing, and is excited to see how development and testing of robotic systems for use in space can lead to evolution in industrial systems. If you would like more information on integrating industrial robotic systems, contact Robotworx at 740-251-4312.