||2001 News Releases
Artificial Intelligence: It's More Than a Movie
June 21, 2001
The Sojourner Rover of the Mars Pathfinder Mission
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
The webcast will feature answers to questions submitted in advance via e-mail to
our webcast producer.
A link to the live webcast is 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
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.
Contacts: Carolina Martinez (818) 354-9382
JPL Media Relations Office