We have come far in the last century, not only have we bent electricity into assisting us with our daily calculus functions, but we have also created machines capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically — robots.
One such robot will soon be sent to Mars; the fourth planet from the sun, and the next in line after Earth.
The U.K. is in the process of developing three space robots in the race to find life on Mars. The very first of its kind is a prototype called “Bruno.” Bruno has two “siblings” named Bridget and Bryan.
Bruno and his rover robot-siblings were designed by Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, England. He is part of an over 1.3 billion (£946 million) space project that intends to send a robot to Mars by 2018.
Robo intelligence on Mars
Bruno is a state-of-the-art space rover with exceptional navigational skills. Head of science at Aribus Defence and Space, Dr. Ralph Cordey, in a quote from MBN, said:
“It’s not possible to drive this sort of machine with a joystick. You’ll crash it. So this rover is designed to be semi-autonomous. It can produce its own 3D map of the area ahead of it, look where it’s being asked to go, and plot its own path.”
Despite the British rover’s sophisticated engineering, it still has a few technical edges to even out before it can successfully complete its planned mission in 2018.
Like any child in their first years of development, Bruno still needs to be taken by the hand during certain conditions. The robot still gets confused whenever he encounters large shadows cast by craters and caves The Telegraph reports.
“There are caves on Mars and craters that cast long shadows. To explore those areas, it’s more efficient to have a human in the loop,” says Airbus Defence and Space communications director Jeremy Close.
The human controller will basically determine a set location for Bruno to go to by inputting the location’s coordinates, and Bruno will do his magic in getting there.
With its set of rovers, the U.K. hopes to be at the forefront of any major discoveries that might answer the question of whether there was ever life on Mars.