Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wanted: Blimps and Robots

Wired looks at some new thinking on Mars exploration. An excerpt:

To test how teams of autonomous robots working together could explore an area, Fink’s team built a miniature lab version of the system, as seen in the image above. At just 4 feet by 5 feet, it’s not exactly the surface of Mars, but it allowed the team to test a piece of software that picks out anomalous objects in a landscape, the Automatic Global Feature Analyzer.

The software doesn’t try to place what it reads in images into known categories. Surveying a scene, it doesn’t try to identify certain kind of rocks or geological features. Instead, it just looks for the odd stuff out — the Waldo — in the scene. For a place like Mars, where we know a lot of the territory is similar and seemingly lifeless, the weird stuff is probably the good stuff.

1 comment:

John said...

It just struck me as I read this post that without air there can be no airplanes, birds, rain or protection from the sun. I'm sure scientists know of this but those of us whose image of space exploration was fashioned by Ray Bradbury have a very skewed imagination about such realities.

What a letdown.