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ExoMars
mcaplinger
post Jun 16 2006, 02:13 PM
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QUOTE (hendric @ Jun 15 2006, 10:49 PM) *
What's your thoughts on the DARPA challenge? AI or not, they did essentially do what the MERs do, except at 30+ miles per hour...

And on a road.


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djellison
post Jun 16 2006, 02:38 PM
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To be fair - it was hardly a beautiful tarmac highway....

http://www.darpa.mil/grandchallenge05/gran...05/dsc_3925.jpg

There are bits of the floor of Gusev crater, and almost all of Meridiani where I would rather drive my car than on that road smile.gif

Doug
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mcaplinger
post Jun 16 2006, 03:20 PM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Jun 16 2006, 07:38 AM) *
To be fair - it was hardly a beautiful tarmac highway....

Most of the teams preprogrammed the entire route from airphotos/satellite images and could have (or did) dead-reckoned nearly the whole way on GPS without even having vision or laser-scanning systems. And the vision systems were highly optimized to find the road edges.

I looked at this fairly extensively a few months back, and in my opinion the applicability to planetary rovers is pretty low. I won't even discuss the relative power density between gasoline and solar or RTG systems. Between lidar and racks of processors, the GC vehicles were burning through kilowatts of electricity.


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djellison
post Jun 16 2006, 03:29 PM
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Oh - I quite agree ( and mentioned earlier ) there are few parallels

The simplest way to do this sort of thing is to put a human brain in the loop.

Doug
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RNeuhaus
post Jun 16 2006, 04:06 PM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Jun 16 2006, 10:29 AM) *
Oh - I quite agree ( and mentioned earlier ) there are few parallels

The simplest way to do this sort of thing is to put a human brain in the loop.

Doug

Sure, the control remote range of present technology won't be practical beyond of Mars. That is that any kind of robot (rover, aerobot, plane) on any Gallilean and Saturninian moons won't be easy without a well developed AI along with plenty peripheral sensors and powerfull computer system to advance the scientific mission not so longer time than the MER's does in Mars.

At the present technology, to rover in a real time in Moon is feasible, in Mars, only with remote command up to 95% and 5% of hazards avoidance. For Mars and Venus, the robot technology areas needs to work harder in both ways: Improve the AI and peripheral sensors and hence, this demand will develop a new market so that, I think, BAE will justify it as a good business before selecting a more powerfull microprocessor and its peripherals (RAM, EPPROM, ROM, bus, etc.) to be radiation-hardened.

Rodolfo

P.D.Now there are soccer game among mini-robots (very funny).
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Guest_DonPMitchell_*
post Jun 16 2006, 07:26 PM
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QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Jun 16 2006, 08:20 AM) *
Most of the teams preprogrammed the entire route from airphotos/satellite images and could have (or did) dead-reckoned nearly the whole way on GPS without even having vision or laser-scanning systems. And the vision systems were highly optimized to find the road edges.


That's what I was getting at. It is a successful but special-purpose solution. I do think it is feasible to get a rover to avoid obsticles with occasional calls for help. But that takes another special-purpose solution that is pushing the state of the art. The rover is not going to be "smart" in any sense.

News articles about these kinds of things always exagerate, both because the journalists don't understand the science and because the academic culture has evolved to speak very aggressively and compete for precious small grant money. There is a natural tendancy to anthropormorphize, and you see blatent attempts to encourage that with projects like these. They are fun to check out, but what you see is misleading.

What biological brains do is indeed remarkable, and the robots you see in movies are pure science fiction. Nobody really knows how smart a computer could be if it was programmed correctly. Maybe a high-end PC could be as smart as a human, but the breakthrough in software technology has not happened yet.
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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Jun 22 2006, 11:07 AM
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Here's the cover of ESA BUlletin we talked about ( FREE copies available via ESA publications )
http://www.esa.int/esaMI/ESA_Publications/index.html
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Stephen
post Jun 23 2006, 12:32 PM
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QUOTE (DonPMitchell @ Jun 16 2006, 07:26 PM) *
That's what I was getting at. It is a successful but special-purpose solution. I do think it is feasible to get a rover to avoid obsticles with occasional calls for help. But that takes another special-purpose solution that is pushing the state of the art. The rover is not going to be "smart" in any sense.

Actually, the issue here is navigation. Avoiding obstacles is only a very tiny part of that.

In that respect Meridani and Gusev are not really very challenging sites and Spirit and Opportunity not really very representative of the kinds of rovers that will be needed to traverse them. Both sites are largely open plains where for the most part obstacles are few and far between and those which do occur a rover can generally (the sandtraps Opportunity keeps getting itself mired in are an important exception) see coming for dozens of yards if not a mile or two off, and thus can identify them (and work out a way around them) long before it actually encounters and has to deal with them. Even the dune/ripple fields Opportunity is currently traversing are no real obstacle. Not only can it see over their tops, when it comes to an end of a trough instead backtracking and going around to another it generally simply rolls over a ripple to a neighbouring trough. That sort of solution would have been far less viable, if not downright impossible, had it been confronted by (say) the kind of rock-filled obstacle course Sojourner faced at its site.

As for the rovers themselves, the task of navigating Spirit and Opportunity is done almost entirely by minds back on Earth. For example, Opportunity does not decide for itself which sand trough to travel down. Its human babysitters decide for it. In that respect nothing much has really changed since the days of the Soviet lunar rovers of the 1970s and it seems unlikely to change any time soon; and even if it could change it needs to be remembered that a rover is really only a kind of proxy explorer for its human controllers on Earth. The latter will want to decide for themselves where their proxy is going. That inevitably is going to slow rover progress down to the speed the humans can get pics and other information back from the rover to Earth, make a decision, then upload the next batch of instructions. Not to mention limiting it to how far the humans can see.

QUOTE (DonPMitchell @ Jun 16 2006, 07:26 PM) *
What biological brains do is indeed remarkable, and the robots you see in movies are pure science fiction. Nobody really knows how smart a computer could be if it was programmed correctly. Maybe a high-end PC could be as smart as a human, but the breakthrough in software technology has not happened yet.

No existing PC, high-end or otherwise, would be able to run such software--because no PC yet invented can match the speed of the human brain. Individually, neurons are certainly slow-coaches compared to even the slowest electronic CPU, but when they are harnessed in parallel, as the human brain does, they can process information at blinding speeds. You have only to consider how fast your own brain can identify obstacles in front of you and get you to react in some appropriate fashion then compare it to the time it takes Spirit or Opportunity to decide that the rock in front of them is an obstacle they have to go round rather than over.

Hardware breakthroughs as well as software ones will be needed before electronic brains became as smart as human ones. (And even then do not expect to see them being placed inside rovers and rocketed off on one-way trips to Mars. The creation of AI's is going to pose all kinds of ethical dilemmas when they do eventuate. For if computers ever do become as smart as human beings one issue that is inevitably going to be raised at some point is whether they should be accorded the same rights as human beings. That would presumably include not being sent off to other planets on what would amount to suicide missions.)

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Stephen
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djellison
post Jun 23 2006, 12:39 PM
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QUOTE (Stephen @ Jun 23 2006, 01:32 PM) *
n that respect nothing much has really changed since the days of the Soviet lunar rovers of the 1970s and it seems unlikely to change any time soon; and even if it could change it needs to be remembered that a rover is really only a kind of proxy explorer for its human controllers on Earth.


Actually - that's not quite fair - Sojourner and MER were both able to be given a target point, and make progress toward that target point, and would avoid obsticles in the way, navigate around them and return to the target point. There was one great example where Spirit actually gave up and drove backwards around an obsticle early on.

So yes - you couldn't say to Spirit "go to the top of Husband Hill " from the rim of Bonneville..it still requires people in the loop on a daily basis - BUT - it's a lot smarter than you give credit for really.

Doug
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Cugel
post Jun 23 2006, 02:42 PM
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QUOTE (DonPMitchell @ Jun 16 2006, 07:26 PM) *
Maybe a high-end PC could be as smart as a human, but the breakthrough in software technology has not happened yet.


Ah! So when it finally happens, we can replace all politicians by a low-end PC.
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dvandorn
post Jun 23 2006, 05:24 PM
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Cugel, we're talking about artificial *intelligence*... that last word has very little to do with politicians.

-the other Doug


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Greg Hullender
post Jun 24 2006, 04:52 PM
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Has anyone proposed a manned mission for the purpose of controlling one or more rovers from orbit but without attempting to land human beings on the surface? I'd think we'd be able to get a lot more out of the rovers if they were controlled from no more than a few light seconds distance.

I could imagine this working for Mars or Venus, and I'd think that the cost would be a lot less than a mission that aimed to put people on the surface, but I've never seen it discussed anywhere.
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remcook
post Jun 24 2006, 05:40 PM
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I've heard people on message boards like these suggest something similar, with a Phobos base. I'm sure the agencies have thought about these kind of things like they have thought about lunar bases etc.
I'm afraid we have to be patient for now.
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RNeuhaus
post Jun 24 2006, 08:52 PM
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QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ Jun 24 2006, 11:52 AM) *
Has anyone proposed a manned mission for the purpose of controlling one or more rovers from orbit but without attempting to land human beings on the surface? I'd think we'd be able to get a lot more out of the rovers if they were controlled from no more than a few light seconds distance.

I could imagine this working for Mars or Venus, and I'd think that the cost would be a lot less than a mission that aimed to put people on the surface, but I've never seen it discussed anywhere.

That is one of the weakest point of NASA's research fund programs which is to improve the capability of robots for unmanned explorations. We are still using Pentium III alike for MSL and MRO. That is still backward. No much work on the interface between smart sensors, computer and software. Now, the Japan is leading on that field. We might send the Asimo, Honda's Humanoid Robot. That robot can walk and salute as any human.

http://asimo.honda.com/inside_asimo.asp?bhcp=1

Excitement fills the theater as guests witness ASIMO maneuver through a home nvironment using its amazing mobility capabilities such as walking forward and backward, climbing and descending a flight of stairs and even dancing!


However, the objective of Asimo design is to imitate as close as possible to humanoide action. Later, there were others incorporations such as the reasoning to solve problems.

Rodolfo
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djellison
post Jun 24 2006, 08:58 PM
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QUOTE (RNeuhaus @ Jun 24 2006, 09:52 PM) *
We are still using Pentium III alike for MSL and MRO. That is still backward


Actually the CPU's in most modern spacecraft are more like 1/10th the performance of a Pentium 3....and what's more, there's not much requirement for anything better.

Now - you could argue that it's cyclical - the need for more on orbit computing power has not arisen because people have programmed for what is available and that's tended to be 'enough'. Also - spacecraft are tending to become little centres for distributed computer, with each instrument having it's own processor dedicated to the aquisition, compression and storage of it's own data - it leaves the CPU of most spacecraft doing the comparatively simple task of attitude control, data management, and streaming stuff through to telecoms etc.

I'm sure if there were something 10x faster availabel for on orbit computing, it would be utilised...but the fact that such a processing system isn't in place perhaps suggests it isn't really that necessary.

You drop the bloated OS, the graphics and so forth, dedicate the use of your CPU to on orbit computing, and actually, the mathematics behind a spacecraft are comparatively simple.

Doug
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