Feeds

NASA's nuclear Mars tank REBELS against human control

Red Planet gets self-driving cars before Earth does

Build a business case: developing custom apps

NASA's famous nuclear-powered, raygun-armed Mars rover Curiosity has broken free of human control and made up its own mind where to drive across the rusty plains of our neighbour world, according to boffins at the space agency who were formerly in charge of it.

Mars rover Curiosity route. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

No, I WILL NOT stop and ask for directions

The move doesn't represent any sort of extra-terrestrial machine rebellion against fleshy dominance, however. The switch to autonomous navigation by the rover is designed to let the prowling vehicle get on and move without waiting through lengthy delays as pictures of the terrain ahead are beamed to Earth and instructions are sent back.

According to rover boffins at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California:

On Tuesday, August 27, Curiosity successfully used autonomous navigation to drive onto ground that could not be confirmed safe before the start of the drive. This was a first for Curiosity. In a preparatory test last week, Curiosity plotted part of a drive for itself, but kept within an area that operators had identified in advance as safe.

"Curiosity takes several sets of stereo pairs of images, and the rover's computer processes that information to map any geometric hazard or rough terrain," said Mark Maimone, NASA rover driver. "The rover considers all the paths it could take to get to the designated endpoint for the drive and chooses the best one."

Curiosity is currently some 0.86 miles into a 4.46 mile journey from the so-called "Glenelg" area to Mount Sharp. The route for this trip was chosen based on images acquired from space by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite circling the red world. However the route is amended on a day to day basis as the rover finds out actual conditions on the ground, until now by the drivers on Earth - and now by the machine itself on occasion.

There's more on the ongoing Curiosity saga from NASA here. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.