NASA held a test run controlling a robot on Earth from outer space. Scott Budman reports.
You've probably seen the Google driverless cars on the road in the Bay Area. Now, Google's neighbor is testing a somewhat autonomous robot.
NASA Ames in Mountain View put the K10 robot through its paces, rolling it along a lunar scape the size of two football fields in the middle of the Ames campus. The robot was being controlled by an astronaut, on board the International Space Station.
Mind-blowing, yes, but also productive.
Eventually, NASA hopes to be able to put such a Rover on the surface of the Moon, or even Mars. Controlling it remotely (say, from the ISS) cuts down on costs, and risk.
And those Google cars? They share something with the Rover - LIDAR, it's like Radar, but with lasers, helping it quickly scan its surroundings. "The robot," says Robotics Group Director Terry Fong, "is smart enough to know how do I get there, and how do I avoid mistakes."
The kind of smarts we all seek in life, controlled hundreds of miles away.
Scott is on Twitter: @scottbudman