Press Release

Artificial Intelligence: It’s More than a Movie

By SpaceRef Editor
June 21, 2001
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Engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will talk
about the real artificial intelligence work that takes place
at NASA in a live webcast, scheduled for June 29, 2001, at 11
a.m. Pacific Time.

The webcast will feature answers to questions submitted
in advance via e-mail to our webcast producer.

A link to the live webcast and the producer’s e-mail are
located at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/webcast/ai .

Dr. Edward Tunstel, lead robotics engineer on the FIDO
rover, a test model for the twin NASA rovers that will go to
Mars in 2003, will speak about rover autonomy of the past and
future. Dr. Larry Matthies, Supervisor, Machine Vision Group,
will talk about his work on machines with human vision
capability. Barbara Engelhardt and Russell Knight of JPL’s
Artificial Intelligence Software Group, will answer questions
on use of artificial intelligence software on future missions.

With detailed instructions from the scientist back home,
smart machines in space function much like a brain and use
inputs from sensors that are like their eyes and ears to make
decisions. Recently, technology has allowed engineers to
create intelligent machines that function independently.

Long before the movie coming out next week, smart rovers
such as Sojourner used artificial intelligence to traverse
Mars in 1997. The rover had the decision-making capability to
move around and decide a path for itself without the help of
ground controllers. Artificial intelligence software on
NASA’s Deep Space 1 was tested in 1998, and in the fall of
2002, JPL will fly the latest AI software that will command
the mission for a period of three months. This software will
decide which pictures to send back to Earth.

Scientists envision a future colony of robots exploring a
planet’s surface. A whole fleet of ground rovers, aerovers
with flying ability and burrowing, worm-like probes may make
up a cooperative mission. These intelligent robots would work
together and share data to make multiple science measurements.

JPL is a division of the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena.

SpaceRef staff editor.