Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Carnegie Mellon's Autonomous Nomad Robot Successfully Finds Meteorites In Antarctica

Date:
February 3, 2000
Source:
Carnegie Mellon University
Summary:
Carnegie Mellon University's Nomad robot, which conducted an autonomous search for meteorites in Antarctica from Jan. 20-30, has successfully completed its mission, examining more than 100 indigenous rocks, studying about 50 in detail and classifying seven specimens as meteorites.

PITTSBURGH -- Carnegie Mellon University's Nomad robot, which conducted an autonomous search for meteorites in Antarctica from Jan. 20-30, has successfully completed its mission, examining more than 100 indigenous rocks, studying about 50 in detail and classifying seven specimens as meteorites.

An expert from the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) program, who collected the specimens after Nomad identified them in the field, has concluded that five of the seven are meteorites. The other two raise enough questions about their composition to merit further study. ANSMET is housed at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Meteorites are curated at the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston and made available to scientists around the world.

"Nomad has found and correctly classified three indigenous meteorites in-situ," said Dimitrios Apostolopolous, a systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute and project manager of the Robotic Antarctic Meteorite Search initiative. "The robot correctly classified three other indigenous meteorites and misclassified one as terrestrial rock. Nomad achieved these results autonomously and without any prior knowledge about the samples." Most of the chondrites that Nomad found are relatively common types, composed mainly of rock with small metallic infusions that probably originated from asteroids. One achondrite meteorite which Nomad classified as interesting is so rare that the robot didn't have the data in its base to make a determination. The robot made its discoveries at Elephant Moraine in eastern Antarctica, 160 miles northwest of the United States base at McMurdo Station. The area is an important site for meteorite discovery, with nearly 2,000 specimens recovered during seven previous visits, including the first meteorite identified as definitely being from Mars. This expedition took place in an area that was last searched by ANSMET scientists in 1979.

Nomad's expedition and the discoveries it has made are significant because it marks the first time a robot, relying on sensors and artificial intelligence, has been able to find a meteorite lying on the ice and distinguish it from ordinary rocks in the area. The first discovery came on Jan. 22, as the robot traveled over an area the size of a football field in patterns similar to those a person would make when mowing a lawn. The search site contained false meteorite look-alikes, sometimes called "meteorwrongs," as well as typical Antarctic rocks.

When Nomad encounters a promising rock, it deploys its manipulator arm containing a high-resolution camera and a spectrometer to gather visual images and spectroscopic data upon which to determine a specimen's composition. When Nomad found its first meteorite, it had already completed 350 meters of linear searches and had examined seven other rocks.

With the help of machine learning and statistical techniques, Nomad puts a numerical value on its confidence that a rock is or is not of extraterrestrial origin. It classified its first meteorite with a confidence rating 2.5 times higher than any other rock it examined. The more rocks it studied, the higher its confidence rating went in making its determinations.

Six researchers from Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute and ANSMET team member John Schutt accompanied Nomad to Elephant Moraine. After Nomad located the meteorites, Schutt collected and gave them a temporary numerical label. "This is a small step for a robot and a big step for robot kind," said William L. "Red" Whittaker, principal investigator for the Robotic Search for Antarctic Meteorites initiative. "This marks the first discovery in the natural world by robotic machine intelligence and sets a precedent for a new class of robotic science on Earth and in space."

"Nomad's meteorite finds are a great achievement," said Apostolopoulos. "However, it had to gather still more data. During the last three days of the expedition, the robot was turned loose in an unscouted area to seek meteorites among high concentrations of terrestrial rocks mixed with snow and ice. Making more interpretations like this in the field enabled Nomad to prove its robustness. Further analysis of the field data will allow a solid scientific evaluation of the robot's abilities and can help set expectations for future generations of planetary rovers."

"With these finds, Nomad takes robotics beyond the typical concerns about nuts and bolts and into the universe of scientific inquiry," said Ralph Harvey, principal investigator for ANSMET. "We all dream of a future where robots can act and perhaps even think independently," he added. "Nomad has now taken the first steps along that path."

Nomad's expedition to Elephant Moraine is a collaborative effort between the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Antarctic Search for Meteorites program. It is being performed under the auspices of NSF's Office of Polar Programs.

The Nomad robot has been developed through research at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute and is funded by grants from NASA's Surface Systems Thrust of the Cross Enterprise Technology Development and Space Telerobotics programs.

###

Experience Nomad's search for Antarctic meteorites at:http://www.ri.cmu.edu/~meteorobot2000.

For education and outreach: http://www.bigsignal.net


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Mellon University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Carnegie Mellon University. "Carnegie Mellon's Autonomous Nomad Robot Successfully Finds Meteorites In Antarctica." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000203075227.htm>.
Carnegie Mellon University. (2000, February 3). Carnegie Mellon's Autonomous Nomad Robot Successfully Finds Meteorites In Antarctica. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000203075227.htm
Carnegie Mellon University. "Carnegie Mellon's Autonomous Nomad Robot Successfully Finds Meteorites In Antarctica." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000203075227.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) — 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) — Commercial aircraft deliveries rose seven percent at Boeing, prompting the aerospace company to boost full-year profit guidance- though quarterly revenues missed analyst estimates. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Car Market on the Rebound?

Europe's Car Market on the Rebound?

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) — Daimler kicks off a round of second-quarter earnings results from Europe's top carmakers with a healthy set of numbers - prompting hopes that stronger sales in Europe will counter weakness in emerging markets. Hayley Platt reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

Reuters - US Online Video (July 22, 2014) — Ten years after releasing its initial report, members of the 9/11 Commission warn of the "waning sense of urgency" in combating terrorists attacks. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins