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.