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by Shannon Bohle
ARRIVE ON MARS AND BEGIN BRIEFING ON THE CURIOSITY AI PROJECT
Humankind has often wondered, “Is there intelligent life beyond Earth?” With the recent Augustine Report findings and the New NASA Plan that stresses unmanned exploration, the demand and use of humanlike and non-humanlike machines to be the robotic explorers in our solar system and beyond has become increasingly important. Robotic explorers, both humanlike and non-humanlike in appearance, can reduce the danger to humans by gathering environmental data and sending that data back to Earth for detailed analysis. Perhaps of greatest importance, AI robotic explorers have the potential to serve as “intelligent assistants” to aid those working in “the field.” These hypothetical scenarios are modeled in the virtual world Second Life project “Curiosity AI.” In particular, the ability of AI machines to control other machines; to sense, transmit and remember environmental data; and to perform tasks in groups are explored.
SIMULATION OF IN-SITU AI DATA REQUEST AND PROCESSING (PHOENIX)
In a presentation given by Tara Estlin, one of NASA’s Artificial Intelligence programmers whose work has been useful for several Mars rovers, one of the problems identified is the need for In-Situ data analysis. Data transmitted by the rovers only has a certain window of dish time when transmitting to the DSN receivers on Earth, so reducing the amount of data sent to only the most relevant is an important goal. The ability for an AI to summarize data therefore would be an asset. This demonstration shows Curiosity Scientist delegating to the rover a request to the Phoenix lander---to calculate and report the sum the first 20 readings of atmospheric pressure data for day 5 of the Phoenix mission. One way this type of in-situ analysis could be used is to detect extreme pressure drops which may be a sign of dust devils. If these spontaneous dust devils were detected, more than one robot could be coordinated so as to record these interesting phenomena while they are occurring.
SWARM BEHAVIOR SIMULATION
The simulated Mars Embla is an example of an expert machine. AI can be used to identify other AI and delegate responsibility to a machine with a specific expert capability, perhaps one that it lacks itself, like the previous example. One of the possibilities for future systems is an expectation that AI may serve as emissary exchange agents for collection and routing of other AI queries. This type of cooperative behavior allows communication with each other and the coordination of behavior to jointly accomplish tasks. In Second Life one way this can be accomplished is by programming robots to listen for certain commands while others ignore them. Another way is to program robots to only listen to certain AI agents, and ignore all other agents. In real life, the Curiosity rover is limited by its size, speed, and need to travel along a sometimes difficult terrain...