An army of sovereign self-driving robots is being developed by NASA and these robots are prepared with webcams and GPS. The robots are being created in order to explore other planets in future. The robots are codenamed as “Swarmies”.
Other Nasa robots are much bigger than these swarmies, if we remember the car-sized Mars rover Curiosity. Each swarmie is packed with a webcam, a Wi-Fi antenna and GPS (Global Positioning System) for exact navigation. These swarmies function just like an ant colony. If an ant finds out a food source then the rest of the colony gets notified through a special signal. Then the ants together jump into taking that food to their nest.
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida has developed a software which controls these swarmies. They can move out to different directions and start searching for a specific pre-planned material, suppose ice-water on Mars. If any of the rover finds something similar, then it uses its radio communication power and calls other robots to help in collecting more samples. Kurt Leucht, one of the engineers who are related with the project, said, “For a while people were interested in putting as much smarts and capability as they could on their one robot.”
Leucht said further, “Now people are realising you can have much smaller, much simpler robots that can work together and achieve a task. One of them can roll over and die and it’s not the end of the mission because the others can still accomplish the task.” The testing phase for these swarmies is just in its primary stage and presently the robots have been programmed just to look for barcoded slips of paper.
In next few months the tests will also include RASSOR which is a mining robot, designed to dig into alien surfaces and look for valuable materials. These tests will determine how much this software can control the robots when they are functional.